View south towards Midway from Guardsman Pass
Ride Description: Guardsman Pass from Midway is amongst the best cycling climbs in Utah. This is also the second most difficult climb by bike in Utah and shares its first 7 miles with Empire Pass. Guardsman Pass begins just north of Midway, Utah and can be reached by 3 routes i.e., from Midway, Park City or via Big Cottonwood Canyon. The Midway ascent to Guardsman Pass is very narrow and rough, but with very little traffic. The climb is steep throughout with it's most challenging section the 1.4 miles from .95 - 2.3 miles at 11.8% average grade. The last 1.7 miles from the intersection of Guardsman and Empire Passes of roadway is no more than a wide single lane in very poor condition.
The road is narrow . . . and . . . steep!
The road is narrow . . . .
. . . and steep!
Views along the route include look-backs to Midway and Deer Creek Reservoir, thick aspens bordering the roadway in places during the middle of the climb, and finally views of sharp mountain ranges and the grade of the final several hundred yards of Guardsman Pass far above (samples of all are on the slideshow, above).
Cottonwoods line the roadway just below the Midway Pass turn.
It is a brute of a climb, but well worth the effort.
Traffic and Roadway report: The roadway surface is poor throughout this ride and the descent is rough and hazardous due to very steep conditions, gravel, potholes and some switchbacks from the 4-7 mile marks. Traffic is very light.
Guardsman Pass from Park City: The Guardsman Pass climb from Park City is much less difficult than starting from Midway, but is still rated the 12th most difficult climb in all of Utah. This climb begins at the south side of Park City and essentially splits 2 ski resorts (Park City and Deer Valley). At mile 5.6, turn right onto Guardsman Pass from Hwy 224 (9/10th mile of flat riding west after passing over Empire Pass) and travel the final 1.7 miles to Guardsman Pass on a very rough (as of summer, 2015) surface gaining 778’ at 8.3% average grade.
The roadway surface is excellent along this climb and the descent back down into Park City is the fastest we have ever experienced and there is no doubt this is one of the fastest descents in the U.S. - one stretch, referred to as “The Drop” on Strava has a KOM averaging 71.5 mph for .8 miles (Strava Link).
Note - as of June 4, 2017, the road was paved according to Strava members
Traffic and Roadway: Traffic is minimal for the entire route, the roadway wide and in very good condition but for the final 1.7 miles on Guardsman Pass Road.