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Provo River Parkway

The Provo River Parkway is an easy-going paved bike and roller blade trail. It stretches 15 miles from Utah Lake State Park to Vivian Park in Provo Canyon. The trail follows the Provo River, seeing heavy use by BYU students and other young hardbodies. Except for a couple of short spots, the slope of the trail is barely perceptible.

The trail is open year-round. However the upper portions may not be snow-free during winter months.

Jessica cruises up the canyon on her 5-speed. Looking west towards the mouth of Provo Canyon, the cliffs on the skyline are conglomerate from the early days of Lake Bonneville. This giant lake covered the Wasatch front from 1 million to 12,000 years ago. Photos from a family cruise on June 13, 1999.

In the morning, the trail is delightfully cool. Even during the heat of the day, much of the trail is shaded and breezy. The ride is easy for small children, but good bike control is a must -- kids have to stay in the right lane to avoid teenagers cruising the trail at high speeds. This is a great place for young moms pushing strollers with their roller blades.

Bruce the Mad Scientist, in full battle gear, rollerblades the trail, accompanied by faithful dog Jackie. (Photo by daughter Kristen.)

 

The trail can be picked up at many locations, as it extends 15.2 miles from Utah Lake to Vivian Park. It's an easy 30-mile out-and-back for conditioned riders, but kids will want a shorter piece. 

Our favorite ride is to catch the trail at the parking area at the mouth of Provo Canyon on Orem's 800 North Street. A ride from the canyon mouth parking up to Bridal Veil Falls and back is 8 miles.

Bruce's kids Jessica (7), Alex (8), and Kristen (10) check out the river from Nunn's Park.

The trail has connections to dirt trails in Provo Canyon. None of these trails are suitable for younger kids. 

For example on the uphill ride 200 feet after passing the bridge that crosses the Provo River to Canyon Glen, the Great Western Trail (GWT) is on your left. It's just before the parkway curves around a rock outcrop. This trail is also the North Provo Canyon section of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail (BST). It rises through an area called the Dragon's Back before hitting the Orem Bench Road, which goes west to connect other dirt trails both uphill and down.

Jessica wanted white tires on her pink bike.

As the trail passes through Canyon View Park, you can head uphill to the Provo Canyon Race Loop.

You can also connect to the South Provo Canyon Bonneville Shoreline Trail from the parkway. After passing through Nunn's Park and crossing the Provo River, you'll enter a parking area on the south side of the highway, then continue uphill on the paved bike path. 1/10th mile later, the singletrack forks uphill on your right. It connects to other trails in the Squaw Peak area at the canyon mouth.

Alex and Jackie check out a pool along the paved path.


Navigation is simple. Just pedal along the pavement and follow the signs. At Nunn's Park, you can stop for a shady mountain picnic. Trees along the parkway include box elder, maple, oak, willow, and cottonwood.

Famous Bridal Veil Falls towers above the Provo River starting at mile 3.8 from the canyon mouth. At the base of the falls, there's a shallow cold swimming hole for hot tired kiddie bodies. 

The cliffs are limestone from the Oquirrh Formation, formed in an ocean basin in the Pennsylvanian Period, 320 million years ago, when the only land animals were insects. The land's edge was in Colorado at that time.

Getting there... 

Provo CanyonTrailhead: On Orem's 800 North, descend slightly off the bench, keeping left. Turn left to Canyon Hills Drive (by the gas station) and immediately go right to the parking lot. The trail entry is on the downhill end of parking.
Canyon View Park: Driving up-canyon, this parking area is on your left a little over a mile uphill. There are bridges across the river to the parkway on each end of the park. Find the paved pathway at the far end of the parking zone and follow it west (down-canyon) then across the river.

Alex is enjoying his trip. (Dad has the picnic in his Camelbak as he skates alongside.)

Canyon Glen:  On your left 2.6 miles up Provo Canyon.  After finding your parking spot, go back to the end of the parking lot where you entered, then turn right and go directly north toward the river and find the bridge across to the parkway.
Nunn's Park, lower Bridal Veil parking:  Exit to the right from 189 at mile 3.2 . There are two large parking lots. The more distant one on the right connects to the trail.. As the road turns left under 189 toward Nunn's Park, turn right into the parking lot.
Vivian Park:  Turn right at mile 5.8. There are two large parking lots. The more distant one on the right connects to the trail.

Provo River Parkway (Canyon) Map
A map held over from our pre-GPS era. See the topo map link below for a map of the entire trail!

Riding resources:
One-page riding guide
GPS track files (right-click and "Save as..."):
       GPX track, includes route to Utah Lake 
High-res topo (entire trail) for printing:  View
Lodging, camping, shops:    Links to Provo area resources

Original page 1999. Copyright Mad Scientist Software Inc.