Category: Trip Reports

19b: Bountiful Snowshoeing

3 Dec 2022: 8 miles, 3.5 miles official BST (twice). Trailforks Log.

In the Spring, Spencer and I set a goal to complete Salt Lake and Davis Counties in 2022. Of course, life always happens, and we got way behind schedule. October and November turned out especially busy, but there was clear weather today, and the temperature was reasonable, so we figured we’d go back to finish the brand new Bountiful Bypass section. We knew there would be snow, so we came prepared with snowshoes and microspike cleats, parked a car at Mueller Park, and drove back to the Summerwood Trailhead where we ended back in October.

Getting to the new BST from this (and any other) trailhead is a steep climb. This trail is remarkably high, around 6,400ft (1,300ft above the highest Bonneville Shoreline). Yet it still barely misses private property in a few places. Fortunately, the access trail had seen some traffic since the last storm, so our cleats worked great. Previous visitors had gone other directions wo when we turned onto the BST, it was virgin snow. Over the past few years, I have really gotten into snowshoeing, and there is something very satisfying about plowing a new path through fresh powder. But not for 9 miles. Snowshoeing a level ungroomed trail in powder is like climbing a steep hill, because you sink so much you have to lift your feet out of each step. Fortunately, the new BST is a well-built relatively trail or this would have been much worse.

The views were awesome along the way, and since this is generally a north facing slope, most of the route is shaded in oak. In fact, as you get into North Canyon, it turns into a conifer forest that would normally be an enjoyable hike. However, by this time, we had covered 4 miles at about 1 mile per hour, the snow had deepened to a foot or more, and checking my trailforks app, realized we had at least 5 miles left with only 3 hours of daylight left. At this point, Spencer said, “I would like to entertain the idea of turning back.” It didn’t take much convincing! Fortunately, going back over our footsteps (with a lot of gradual downhill) was a lot easier and quicker, and we reached our car just as it got dark.

So, I think I’m going to set my limit on snowshoes to about 3 miles. We’ll come back to finish the section between North Canyon and Mueller Park in the Spring. We should probably wait until they finish building a bridge over the creek in Mueller Park anyway.

20: Centerville

29 October 2022: 6 miles official BST. Trailforks hike log

We were supposed to finish the new “Bountiful Bypass” section today into Mueller Park, but it had snowed earlier this week, and when we got to the trailhead, it was obvious that the trail would be very muddy (especially since much of it is not beaten in much yet). Hiking muddy trails is always a bad idea, but we didn’t want to waste the day (and the hour drive each way).

So we skipped ahead to the next episode, which follows a south facing (i.e., much sunnier) route that is lower and more beaten, and thus much less likely to be muddy. Which turned out to be true. We started near the Bountiful B, passed the Viewmont V and Centerville, ending at the Little Valley trailhead in southern Farmington.

The southern end was a little tricky. The official BST shown on all of our sources, including the Forest Service and Davis County (the trail stewards), was very steep, heavily eroded, and appeared to be abandoned (covered in weeds). Perhaps we were on the wrong route, but we couldn’t find anything nearby. There is an upper alternative route, which is not official, but it is more level, in much better shape, and is clearly more commonly used. I liked it quite a bit, as it wended its way through a meadow where the scrub oak had been burned a few years ago.

When we rejoined the official BST, it was in significantly better shape, a nice level trail. Because Centerville is the lowest elevation city on the Wasatch Front, the Bonneville Bench is far above the city, and even though this trail was a few hundred feet below the upper bench, it is a very natural landscape. As in other parts of the BST, this trail crossed several pretty creeks above where they are diverted into the city’s culinary water supply, including some well-built bridges.

North of Parish Lane in the middle of Centerville, the trail changes from a singletrack trail to following the old utility/fire break road, a typical “version 1” BST like we have seen elsewhere, especially in Utah County. It makes for a somewhat dull hike, although the views are great of Centerville, Farmington Bay, and Antelope Island in the distance.

Fall has been a great time to hike these last couple stretches, and we hope to continue in November, with just a few more outings to finish this season in Davis County.

19a: North Salt Lake

8 October 2022: 5.7 miles, 4.37 miles official BST. Trailforks hikelog

Welcome to Davis County! Today we continued north around North Salt Lake along a brand new section of trail high on the ridge between Davis County and City Creek Canyon.

In the first big push to expand the BST in the late 90s, the Lake Bonneville Bench above Bountiful had already been developed with homes and a couple golf courses. So Davis County just designated Bountiful Boulevard (well, its sidewalk) as the route for the BST. In recent years, the County and its cities worked with the US Forest Service to develop a countywide plan for a “Version 2” trail. We’ll probably be revisiting that plan several times over the next few hikes. Here we got to hike the first part of that new trail to be built, completed in 2021.

The trail is very high here to avoid some large blocks of private property and stay in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, which means that while the BST itself is relatively level with very reasonable grades on the hills, every access route from a trailhead has to climb at least 200ft to get to the trail. But there were amazing views of the valley and the Great Salt Lake (or at least where the GSL would be if it weren’t so low). It was also a beautiful walk through the fall colors, as these hills were covered with a lot more bright red bigtooth maple than most of foothills.

We’re excited to see what’s ahead!

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!

17: Where it all began

27 August 2022: 7.5 miles, 7.0 miles official BST. Trailforks hike log

Yes, we’re still a little out of order as we schedule our guests, but we forge ahead. Today was an extra special hike, as we explored the very first segment of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail ever built. We had a great conversation a couple months ago with Jim Byrne, one of the original developers of the trail, at an event memorializing his friend and fellow BST pioneer Rick Reese, who recently passed away. This event dedicated a new interpretive kiosk at the trailhead at the mouth of Emigration Canyon that honors Rick and the immense work he, Jim, and others did to get this endeavor going.

It all started with a discussion in 1989 about preserving the unofficial social trails in the area, but by 1992, they had secured permission from This is the Place State Park, the University of Utah, and Red Butte Gardens to allow an official trail through their properties. This first segment mostly followed existing double track that has existed as a fire break and utility access for decades, but by the end of 1993, volunteers had improved and signed it, and the BST was officially born.

The second half of our hike, north of the University, took a little more work. Most of the land is owned by Salt Lake City, which was supportive of the idea, but a pre-existing connected trail was not there. Thanks to a grant from the Steiner Foundation, the trail was built and opened in 1999; it is still called the “Steiner Centennial Segment.”

Most of this section was clearly designed as a multi-use trail, with easy grades and good tread, except for Dry Canyon and one steep hill, both old social trails that were used. In 2020, Salt Lake City released a new Foothill Trails System Plan; the many miles of trail improvements in this area includes rerouting these two short sections to more sustainable alignments. Unfortunately, after the first phase of construction, the plan has been tied up in some dispute with local residents, but there seems to be progress on that front, so perhaps these reroutes will be started soon.

16a: Parley’s Canyon

August 13, 6.9 miles official trail. Trailforks hike log

We haven’t been out as much as we had hoped, because July and early August has been HOT. We have been busy, especially with Spencer trying to finish up some of the episodes we filmed in May and June. So it was wonderful to get back on the trail and make some progress. Today’s hike covered two very different segments of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail.

Our first section crossed the I-80/I-215 interchange that encompasses the mouth of Parley’s Canyon. Few of us notice that the freeways and ramps here are almost 200 feet above the bottom of the canyon, which is preserved in their midst. This Parley’s Crossing segment of the trail was completed in August 1999 at a cost of over $2 million, making it almost certainly the most expensive section of the BST ever. The 1.5 mile long paved pathway included two freeway overpasses, to which a third was later added as part of the Parley’s Trail. Parley’s Canyon got its name as early as 1850, when LDS apostle Parley P. Pratt oversaw the construction of a toll road up through the Park City area (then called Parley’s Park) to Echo Canyon as an easier alternative to the pioneer trail down Emigration Canyon.

Along the way, we got a good view of Suicide Rock, a massive outcrop of sandstone now covered in graffiti. It is unimpressive from the freeways that look down on it, but it loomed over 150 feet above the original road into the valley. The rather unfortunate name is not based on some recent event, but dates back to pioneer times, when travelers along the road told the fictional but romantic story of an Indian princess who fell to her death when the husband she was waiting for never returned from a journey up the canyon.

After crossing I-80, the trail briefly goes up the canyon along the decaying pavement of US-40, the main east-west highway through Utah from the early 1930s until I-80 was completed in the late 1960s. This was part of the Victory Highway, the successor to the Lincoln Highway, the first transcontinental road, which followed the original road in the bottom of the canyon. It is remarkable to think of this major highway being built into this ledge high up on the side of the canyon (to make it easier to reach Parley’s Way on the bench, where the highway continued into town), but the views of the valley were great.

Most of our hike was along the brand new Parley’s Pointe segment of the BST, completed in 2021. This is a perfect example of the challenging gaps that we are now trying to fill in the trail. It crosses a large block of private property that the owner wanted to develop into luxury homes. After years of negotiation (and court battles) with Salt Lake City, an agreement was finally reached to allow the owner to put in one street of 13 lots, in exchange for dedicating the remaining 290 acres as public open space. The Bonneville Shoreline Committee and Trails Utah were then able to secure funding to professionally build this four mile trail in one summer! The trail has to climb 700 feet to get around the houses (and reach a spectacular viewpoint), but it was designed well with reasonable grades and still have over a mile of mostly level trail in the middle. Good work! If only there were a bit more shade…

15b Yellow Fork

2 July 2022: 5 miles (4.1 miles semi-official, 0.9 miles unofficial). Trailforks Log

Today we continued our exploration of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail on the west side of the Salt Lake Valley. Near Herriman in the upper southwestern corner of the valley is the Rose Creek and Yellow Fork Recreation Area, a large nature area shared between Salt Lake County and the Bureau of Land Management. They acquired this property that had previously been part of Camp Williams during the 1980s and 1990s, and in 2011 began actively developing it into a county park. Most of the trails in this area have been worn in and used by ATVs, dirt bikes, and horses for several decades. Among these was a double-track high in the hills that the county designated as the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. Recently the trails were renamed as development has continued, and the designation was removed because of the possibility of connecting to the Herriman Trail at a lower elevation.

If that happens, the main Yellow Fork Trail would be the best alignment for the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, so we decided to follow that route. This is an enjoyable, shady trail that is popular with hikers, bikers, and equestrians; there were many of each on this early summer morning.

From Yellow Fork we climbed a trail that was a little steeper and rougher up to Rose Ridge, where we had a great front-row view of the Kennecott Mine (well, actually its massive overburden tailings pile). The trail that descends this ridge is an old ATV track that is not bad in some places, but steep and rocky in other spots. At the base is the mouth of Butterfield Canyon, where Salt Lake County recently acquired more property and plans to begin building a trailhead later this year.

When this happens, a complete BST segment can be designated, but some trail improvements will be a great idea.

15a: Herriman

June 20 2022: 8 miles, 3.8 miles official BST, 2.2 miles unofficial BST. Trailforks log

Today we had an oddly chilly Juneteenth holiday, so we decided to head over to Herriman to begin a detour episode to explore the progress on a “west side” Bonneville Shoreline Trail. Herriman and Salt Lake County have big plans to build the BST over here, and while it is a daunting task, there has been some progress.

Fortunately, I had a great chat with the Herriman Parks and Rec staff a week ago, so I had a pretty good idea of their plans. Currently, there is only a 1.5 mile stretch of trail actually called the Bonneville Shoreline Trail in the west end, but there are several other existing official trails that will form part of the BST once it is complete. As in cities such as Draper, Lehi, and Salt Lake City, Herriman has a strong policy of acquiring undevelopable land from property owners hoping to build with higher density in the valley, now totaling over 2,500 acres. It doesn’t look like much on a map, but this city preserve is remarkably wild, a great place to hike or bike, if a little dryer than the other side of the valley.

The southeastern corner of Herriman is still undeveloped private property, so the trail will have to wait here until development expands. Eventually, the BST could extend from here to the Mountain View Highway, following it through Camp Williams to reach Saratoga Springs and Eagle Mountain (although neither of these cities have plans for a BST yet). Above the Juniper Ridge neighborhood is a good stretch of relatively level trail that is perfectly suited as BST.

However, west of this the residential development goes high into Hidden Canyon, forcing the trail to climb up several switchbacks. The residents of this gated community have complained about the possibility of a trail in their backyards (a common concern), but the city has a plan to build the trail along a high route that is out of their immediate view. We decided to go for an adventure and bushwhack along this planned corridor. Parts of it were an easy hike, but some patches of dense oak were pretty brutal; I would not suggest anyone trying to follow us! However, it is a very promising route for the trail, and I hope they can connect this gap soon.

The western half of our hike was along a complete, well-worn trail. To stay as close to the neighborhoods as possible while remaining on city property, the trail has some significant descents and climbs, but in general it was an enjoyable trail, if rather rocky. Good work Herriman!

12a: Bells Canyon Geology

June 11 2022: 3.3 miles, 1.5 miles unofficial BST. Trailforks log

Today’s hike was around Bell’s Canyon Reservoir in Sandy, one of my top two or three “backyard” trails along the entire Wasatch Front. Even though there is no sign of this currently, this trail is planned to become part of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, but challenging gaps to the east and south mean that it may take a while. The brand new (and not quite finished) Preservation Trailhead is a great addition, with a big parking lot that represents a significant investment by Sandy City to keep up with the astronomical increase in outdoor recreation. And yet, on a very hot June day, this and the other two trailhead lots were full and overflowing.

This area is unique from the rest of the Wasatch Mountains, a lot more like Switzerland than Utah, so this was a great place to talk about science rather than trails policy. Our guest today was Dr. Ron Harris, a geology professor at BYU. Dr. Harris and I had a great conversation about the unique geology here:

  • The huge granite intrusion (30 million years ago) that makes the canyons and Lone Peak white, and was used to build the Salt Lake Temple. This intrusion also formed the rich ore veins of Alta and Bingham Canyon.
  • The Ice Age glaciers (100,000-15,000 years ago) that came further down here than anywhere else, leaving the massive moraines of giant boulders that form the bowl in which the lake sits. In fact, the Little Cottonwood Glacier likely extended well into Lake Bonneville at its height.
  • The Wasatch Fault (20 million years ago to present), with its 30 meter-high exposed scarp here created by major earthquakes as little as 1,000 years ago (yes, that means we’re due).

Even though it was relatively short, this was a great hike on a great trail that should make for a great episode!