Summer trail works in Salt Lake City begin with City Creek Canyon

Five trailheads to be transformed as part of the 2021 Bonneville Shoreline Trail plan.

(Julie Jag | The Salt Lake Tribune) On Saturday, May 13, 2023, wildflowers will bloom along the City Creek Canyon Trail where it merges with the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. The BST portion of the trail between Lower City Creek Loop and the BST junction will be closed for repairs May 16 through June 2.

The first mile of the dirt road, which runs along the west side of City Creek Canyon, will be closed Tuesday through June 2 for maintenance.

Part of the 25-year-old, nearly 400-mile Bonneville Shoreline Trail, it will be the first section in Salt Lake City to receive a facelift this summer, according to the city’s Public Lands Division website. According to Tyler Fonarow, the city’s recreational trail manager for public spaces, restoration work on other Foothills trails will coincide with Rocky Mountain Power replacing the utility poles in the area. The city has also marked several starting points for renovation work.

The BST West City Creek Trail or other sections of the BST will not require realignment this summer, Fonarow said, as most changes to it and other city trails will focus on reducing erosion, improving watersheds and minimizing puddles .

“We take our time,” said Fonarow. “We don’t want to commit ourselves too much just because we’re going to learn from this cleanup project, because it’s the first path we’ve officially gotten clean. So we don’t want to plan anything else until we get that done, see how it goes, and then plan the next one.”

The City Creek Canyon Trail, as it’s called on the All Trails app, will be closed where it connects to the Lower City Creek Loop just above the City Creek Canyon Road turnoff. The closure ends about a mile north where it joins the portion of the BST that leads to Ensign Peak. Four crossroads and several culverts will be repaired.

Rocky Mountain Power’s firefighting project will move west to east across the foothills in four phases, and Fonorow said repair work on the city’s hiking trails will move with it where possible. At the request of the city, Rocky Mountain Power has hired a trail builder and rehabilitation specialist to repair any trail or surrounding area that was damaged during the replacement of the utility poles and infrastructure. If the city wants trail work in the same area, those companies can do it concurrently with Rocky Mountain power work, Fonarow said.

An exception to this is work that must be performed on property owned by the University of Utah, Utah State Parks, or the United States Forest Service. Fonarov said those companies have not yet given the city permission to change pathways on their property.

Phase 1 of the Rocky Mountain Power project will take place between Dry Creek, near the Jewish Community Center, and Red Butte Garden and is expected to begin in June.

These trail repairs are unrelated to a series of BST trail improvements the city also has planned this year.

In 2021, the Utah Legislature allocated $5 million to build and maintain the BST. Salt Lake City received $1.3 million from this fund to “reconstruct four trailheads between Emigration Canyon and City Creek Canyon,” according to the BST year-end 2022 status report. The city will also supplement these funds. These starting points – actually five in all – are to be renovated this year. According to the city’s website, there will be paved parking lots, rubbish and recycling bins, dog waste bags, and an entrance area with an information kiosk at the trailhead.

The closest parking lot to City Creek Canyon on Bonneville Boulevard is known as the “Salt Dome” because the city uses it to store road salt in the winter. After the renovation, it will have picnic tables, lighting, an event space, an SLC Arts Council installation, a pit toilet, and parking for bicycles, as well as at least 50 cars in the summer and 15 in the winter.

Another is the Emigration Trailhead near Hogle Zoo. At this point, the city plans to build a crosswalk over Sunnyside Avenue that will connect the trailhead to the restrooms and facilities at Rotary Glen Park. Also part of the plan are picnic tables and benches, bike racks and parking for 16 to 20 cars, including an accessible parking lot.

The other three trailheads the city wants to improve include those on Hilltop Road, in Popperton Park — where there’s a restroom and water fountain — and on Victory Road, aka Hell Canyon Trailhead, the westernmost access point to the Foothills trail system.

In addition to improved trailheads, hikers, cyclists and runners should look out for better signage, according to Fonarow. He said the city expects to put up signs at even smaller intersections and at neighborhood access points in the Foothills starting this fall to help users navigate the trail system.

Justin Scaccy

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