||Mill Creek Pipeline Trail
In the lower half of Salt Lake City's Mill Creek Canyon is the Mill Creek
Pipeline trail. It's a great lower-altitude alpine bike ride for advanced
beginners and intermediates. This narrow
single-track is usually open by mid-April or early May and stays clear of snow until November.
Looking southwest across the canyon
from the trail. May 26, 1999 by Bruce
trails connect the Mill Creek Canyon road to the trail, allowing riders to pick up the trail and
bail out at four locations. To do the entire trail out-and-back from the
upper trailhead on the Mill Creek Canyon road, it's 14 miles. Many riders
climb the paved canyon road and connect to the trail at one of the upper
locations, then drop down Rattlesnake Gulch for a loop ride.
Chad passes the Church Fork entry to
the pipeline in 1999.
||Much of the trail is smooth hard-pack dirt. But the
narrowness and exposure to steep hillsides make it an "intermediate
trail" that's still suitable for brave beginners. Much of the trail is shaded cruising through the woods,
while the western third is exposed to wind or heat on steep slopes.
The trail bed is firm, giving good support to your tires even when wet. This is
an excellent early-season ride.
Typical buff trail section as the
trail leaves the Mill Creek Canyon road at Elbow
Dogs are allowed in Mill Creek Canyon. Be sure Fido is
compatible with other mutts. You're sure to run into a few of them. Jackie (at left) thinks nothing of this 14-mile run.
Even on weekdays, the trail sees fairly heavy use. Be courteous. And be
smart. Our ER sees occasional head-on collisions by bikers speeding on this trail.
the Jack Russell terrier and her pet biker.
Self-portrait May 26, 1999.
Except for the descent from Elbow Fork into Burch Hollow
(about 600 feet
vertical), there isn't much elevation change on the Pipeline trail.
At the Salt Lake end of the trail, there's a fabulous overlook of the
valley. (Trail end GPS N 40° 41.618' W 111° 46.924'.)
View west over the valley, from about a
mile before the end of the trail.
||While most of the Pipeline is easy cruising, we wouldn't recommend taking a newbie down
Rattlesnake Gulch. This descent is advanced technical. When the dust gets deep and
slippery, Rattlesnake can be a white-knuckle slide for the best riders.
The lower pipeline
can be ridden in up to eight inches of snow. This is a fun ride after a spring storm. Here
Dominic Bria follows Matt
Flygare through a dip. Ride in the snow, ride on frozen ground, but DON'T ride in the mud!!!
Photo March 25, 2000.
|Pedal 1.5 miles up the paved road. The trail takes off on your left just
before the road takes a sharp turn to the right at N 40° 42.495' W 111° 41.443'.
the entire trail, then watch for Burch Hollow on your way back. 5.5 miles from the
overlook you'll see a fork in the trail at N 40° 41.954' W 111° 43.434'. Take the right
fork 1/4 mile down to the Burch Hollow trialhead. Peddle 1/4 mile uphill to your car. The
trip is 14 miles.
Matt cruises the Pipeline
Trail in June 1999.
||Getting there: Get to Foothill Blvd on the east bench of
Salt Lake City via I-215. Exit at 39th South. Take 3800 South eastbound into the Canyon.
Our favorite strategy is to do the first segment as a road and single-track loop, and the
rest of the trail as an out-and-back: Drive 3.5 miles past the fee station. Park near the
gate 1/4 mile past the Burch Hollow trailhead, at GPS N 40° 41.958' W 111° 42.752'.
(Note: the gate to upper Mill Creek Canyon is open to cars July 1 to November 1, but you
can pedal or hike up the road any time.)
Chad ponders the meaning of life as he
looks southwest over the Salt Lake Valley from the viewpoint at the end of
the trail. Meantime, Jackie is pondering whether there are still Powerbars
left in his camelbak.
||Fiscal Note: There's a $3 fee per car (2009), payable as you leave the canyon.
It doesn't cost anything if you ride your bike up -- it only costs if you take a car into