Category: Trip Reports

23: Layton in not-quite Spring

11 March 2023: 8.5 miles, 6.8 miles official BST, 0.4 miles unofficial BST. Trailforks hike log.

We can’t seem to get rid of this winter! With the recent mix of sun, rain, and snow, we weren’t sure what the state of the BST up north would be. I have a firm rule about not hiking muddy trails. But the forecast for today was sunny and 42°, so Spencer and I couldn’t pass up a chance to finish Davis County before “mud season” kicks in. Turns out we chose wisely! Almost the entire trail was still snow-covered, packed solid by the frequent users, which made for a great trip, although walking on packed snow is just enough harder than a dry trail to make us quite tired by the end.

We started across Bair Canyon from where we ended the last trip above Fruit Heights, verifying the difficulty of connecting the gap. We hope the city can find someone to work with them on this. The trail north of the canyon appears to be an old rock quarrying road. We tried the trail above the Kaysville gun range, but it turned out that it was open and a lot of people were enjoying the sunny Saturday there, so we dropped down a not-really-a-trail to the East Mountain Wilderness Park to rejoin the official trail.

The BST route through the park is not signed but we think we followed the most likely route. At the top, where the trail crosses Holmes Creek, Kaysville installed a new bridge in 2020, which they had to bring in by helicopter. The new route of the trail here is much nicer than the old crossing. The rest of the trail north of here is a long-established trail built by Layton and the Forest Service in the early 2000s, and improved in many sections during the early 2010s. The next major crossing was Adams Canyon, which had a beautiful conifer grove that is rare at this elevation. This part of the BST had many more people than anywhere else we’ve been in Davis County; the waterfall up the canyon is a popular destination. The new trailhead that was recently built at the bottom of Adams Canyon as part of the US-89 reconstruction was apparently very needed.

Between Adams Canyon and Fernwood Picnic Area, the trail is nice and level, with some small creek crossings. The only downside is a massive gravel pit. North of Fernwood, the trail does not appear to have had as much traffic; the snow is deeper and the trail was not packed quite as well; “postholes” (deep footprints) were so common that it was difficult to keep our balance. The long bridge (possibly only second longest to Draper’s Bear Creek along the BST?) installed in 2014 across the Middle Fork of Kays Creek was a highlight here.

The main drawback of this entire hike, as in many places we have been over the last couple years, was the lack of signage. Over 7 miles, we probably saw 4 BST trail markers. There were a lot of junctions where it was not at all clear where the trail was supposed to go; ideally, I would have at least 20 markers along this section. I think I will push for signage as a fundraising priority. They’re a lot cheaper than trying to buy large parcels.

North of Layton Ridge, there is a short dead end trail built by the neighborhood developers, but beyond it is private property. The snow wasn’t groomed, and we were too tired to hike through two feet of snow, so we’ll save that for another day. Instead, we went north to the Weber River, to see the plans for crossing this congested canyon mouth. I-84, the railroad, the river, the gravel pits, and private property in the foothills have conspired to make this canyon more difficult to cross than any other. The compromise is to bring the trail down into the valley to join a future extension of the Weber River Parkway. UDOT is currently building a pedestrian underpass under US-89 for the trail, and a decent trail already exists along the south bank until the river goes under I-84. After that, a bridge over the river will need to be built, but we’ll talk more about that next time.

22: A winter respite in Farmington

February 11 2023: 7 miles, 5.6 miles official BST, 0.5 miles unofficial route, Trailforks hike log

We had hoped to be hiking all fall and winter and finishing Davis County by the end of 2022, but other work and weather has set us back. We had the wettest January on record, and after our last adventure, we waited until the snowy trails were more packed down. So it was good to finally get out and continue our journey past Farmington.

The trail in the southern part of Farmington, north of Davis Creek is a nice trail for the first mile or so, before it becomes a utility service road. The county BST plan intends to move it from this road further up on the bench. We were able to hike a short section that already exists, but most of it will require new construction, and this is a lower priority than the significant sections in the county with no trail at all.

North of Farmington Canyon, there are generally two trails, the lower utility road that passes through a couple subdivisions (which Farmington City calls the official BST for now), and an upper singletrack trail that the county plans to use as the permanent BST. In fact, the Forest Service and Fruit Heights City already designate parts of the upper trail as the official BST (with some trail markers out there to prove it). However, the upper trail is broken where it crosses Farmington, Shepard, and Bair Canyons, especially the very steep slopes on their northern sides. We saw an old cut across much of the north side of Farmington Canyon which is likely the future rout, but it disappears before it can cross the creek to connect to the large canyon trailhead. At Shepard Canyon, there is a narrow, windy, steep trail that crosses the creek over a small hand-made bridge, but this would need to be completely rerouted to be a good multi-user trail. Bair Canyon has a very good trail on the south side of the creek leading to a nice bridge, but there is a significant gap on the cliffy north side. Fruit Heights City recently got a grant to construct this last crossing, but they have had some difficulty finding a trail builder who can make it work.

We explored the upper route as far as we could. It is generally a nice trail between the canyons, with some parts that could use some work to bring it up to BST standards. To top it all off, when we were in Bair Canyon we saw a bald eagle up on the rim!

20b: 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.

21: 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.

20a: 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!

19: 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!

18: 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.

17: 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.