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.

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