18: Finishing Salt Lake County

17 September 2022: 9 miles, 8.2 miles official BST. Trailforks hike log

Today’s hike wrapped up our travel through Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County. I was fortunate to meet with Tyler Fonarow, the recreational trails manager for Salt Lake Public Lands, who is responsible for the care and improvement of all the trails up in this area. Tyler has been working very hard on the development and implementation of the Foothills Trail System Plan, and was able to show us some of the trails they have recently built, and give us some updates on the future of that plan.

Among the social trails that have been around for decades (many of which have become unsustainable as they often go straight up ridgelines or ravines), are segments of the BST that the city and volunteers built in the late 90s. Most of these are still in good shape, but as design standards have improved in recent years, there were some needs for remediation. We hiked one new segment above the Terrace Hills Trailhead that is greatly improved over the original route. Another segment that Tyler showed us descends from the Morris Meadows area to Bonneville Boulevard, the one-way road that crosses City Creek Canyon. The original trail zig-zags straight down to the road, but it is very steep in spots and they have re-designated it for downhill biking only. The new route is mostly good, with a couple spots where an ideal trail was difficult to build. This and other new trail cuts have raised some controversy among the residents, and Tyler and his colleagues have been working with them to revise parts of the plan.

Somewhere in this area, we reached the halfway point of our project, having covered about 125 miles so far. I’m not exactly sure on the accessibility of a couple segments up north (Box Elder County residents, I need your help!), but I think we have about that much left to hike. Fun!

After a short walk down (or is it up?) the road to the creek, the second half of our trip started with a steep 1,000ft climb out of City Creek Canyon along the trail built in 1999. Fortunately the day was cool and cloudy, but it made me wish for some of those newer trails with the occasional grade reversals. The level trail at the top provided more great views of downtown Salt Lake, with Ensign Peak overlooking it, and out to the Great Salt Lake (or at least, the dry bed of the eastern part of the lake). We then ended our hike along what was originally a utility access road, although it has re-naturalized somewhat into a trail. Here Salt Lake City and North Salt Lake have purchased a large area of the original Bonneville Shoreline bench to create a preserve, which has set a limit to both the massive gravel pit below and the expanding residential development to the north. It is a very pretty and serene grassland hidden from all the urban industry below.

And here comes Davis County!

16b: Grandeur Peak

3 September 2022: 4.5 miles, 3.1 miles official BST, 1.2 miles unofficial trail. Trailforks hike log

Today’s trip was a little shorter than usual, crossing the base of Grandeur Peak between Millcreek and Parley’s Canyons. Along the way, I had a great conversation with Sarah Bennett, the executive director of Trails Utah. Through her non-profit organization, Sarah has been one of Utah’s greatest trailblazers, who has helped to get hundreds miles of trail built across our state. Sarah and Trails Utah serve as a kind of facilitator, helping local trail enthusiasts and agencies to get organized, work with land owners, and get grants to build and improve trails in their communities.

High on her list of priorities is the BST here in her back yard. In 2020, she helped get the first part of today’s route built, a trial climbing up Rattlesnake Gulch in Millcreek Canyon. The old trail here went straight up the bottom of the streambed at a difficult grade. The new trail is long, over a mile with about 20 switchbacks, but it is a nice trail with an easy grade. After climbing almost 700 feet, we reached the Millcreek Pipeline Trail, a great level trail along the route of the old pipeline that carried water from several miles up the canyon to the city.

From the mouth of the canyon, we could see the next phase of this project, where the trail needs to drop off the ridge to the north. The current social trail is a steep, poorly graded social trail, but Sarah and John Knoblock (see Episode 14) have planned an alternative route that will be much better. Thanks to a generous appropriation from the state legislature for BST land acquisition, Salt Lake County was able to purchase two parcels here, consolidating a large area of open space here. Recently, they were able to acquire funding, including a Utah Outdoor Recreation Grant (see Episode 13), and construction is underway! They are hoping for this section to be open by the end of the year.

The final (northern) segment of the trail mostly follows old roads that led to limestone quarries that we passed. Parts are great and level, other parts could use some work. We ended with some great views up Parley’s Canyon. All told, this was a great hike!

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