It looks like we’re getting another one of the later winters we’ve had recently, so Spencer and I were able to take advantage to hike another section of the BST in Box Elder County. The primary challenge here is getting across Box Elder Canyon (NOT Sardine Canyon), yet another busy canyon with a major highway. Due to the gravel pits blocking the mouth of the canyon, the most likely solution this time is to go up the canyon to Mantua and back down the other side. Fortunately, good (unofficial) trails already exist to do this, even including a pedestrian underpass built under the highway.
The trail going up the south side of the canyon follows an old pipeline (buried), which means that most of it is very level, on a nice wide bench, with lots of maple trees for shade; a beautiful trail (except for a few muddy spring crossings). However, at the upper end, is a 100 yard section that gives the trail its name, “The Boardwalk.” Forced into a very steep, unstable talus and cliffy slope by the highway, riders have placed plywood on the rocks that are barely held in place by the steel fence posts. It’s just as sketchy as it sounds (but not as sketchy as it looks), and we could not see an easy solution for building an official trail here when the time comes. Perhaps they could build something directly on the highway retaining wall.
The north side is not nearly as pretty, but is a much more level, easier, more safe trail, as it is a utility road following the main water pipeline from Mantua Reservoir to Brigham City. Here we were joined by Brittany Alfau, a planner with the Bear River Association of Governments (BRAG), an intergovernmental organization for the three northernmost counties of the state. While BRAG provides a wide variety of services that require the cooperation of the local towns and counties (especially services that the smaller towns can’t provide for themselves), one of their core services is transportation planning, including trails. Organizations like BRAG are especially important for longer urban trails like the BST that cross through many jurisdictions, requiring a high degree of coordination and cooperation. While Box Elder County is still trying to get its portion of the BST off the starting block, Brittany is one of the main people working to get everybody on the same page to move forward.
Across the face of the mountain above Brigham City, there are three options for an initial BST along existing utility roads, basically a low, middle, and high route. This land is a mix of City, Forest Service, and private property, so there are probably opportunities to get something done. As the pipeline emerged from the canyon at the upper route (following the narrow Bonneville-level bench at 5,100ft), we decided to stay high. The terrain was level, the trail was in good condition, and the views were amazing (and there are actually some shady spots), but we were 700 feet above the highest homes in town, so it probably wouldn’t be a very popular option for the BST. Also, the trail clearly ended at the base of the “B.”
The middle trail, which follows a gas pipeline, is probably the best combination of accessibility, view, and trail quality that would make a good Bonneville Shoreline Trail. So we picked our way down the steep slope (with the aid of a really rough path) to that level, and followed it north. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go very far before being blocked by fenced private property, an obvious spot to end. As we dropped down into town, we checked out Easter Falls, but unfortunately, it isn’t Easter, and there isn’t much flow outside of the spring season.