||South Canyon Trail
Loop via Rail Trail
Basin Recreation has created many fabulously exciting and scenic trails in recent
years. This isn't one of them. The South Canyon loop trail comes to bat
with three strikes already: the riding isn't exciting, the views don't inspire, and the
trail doesn't really go anywhere. It's not a bad trail. But there
are so many great trails nearby. So
I'll struggle mightily and figure out who, exactly, would want to ride
Typical trail view on the South Canyon
Trail, as the route contours a brush-covered slope. Photos by Bruce,
August 16, 2010.
|Ah ha! I've got it. You've just ridden the Princess Di
loop, and there's an hour before sunset. It's too late to pack up
and head for another trail. But you want more riding before going home. Well, you just keep heading south onto this
loop to tack on a few additional miles.
The shorter version of the South
Canyon loop is 6.7 miles. The longer ride adds an
out-and-back on South Canyon at the far end of the loop before heading
back, and is 9.3 miles. Total climbing for the longer ride is about 600
feet. And the climbing is a little steep for beginners, which is why I'm
not suggesting this as a ride for grommets.
The southbound route is the
arrow-straight cindered Rail Trail (angling from lower right in the
||The loop combines 2.6 miles of the Rail Trail south from the
Promontory Trailhead with the South Canyon singletrack. As the Rail Trail
nears US-40, you'll climb up the 0.6-mile RocMon singletrack to the South
Then you can either head straight back, or continue around the mountain
to the Browns Canyon road out-and-back, then complete the loop. Frankly,
the best part of the South Canyon trail is the part everybody skips -- the
piece between RocMon and Browns.
Heading uphill on South Canyon, just
south of the RocMon fork. A bit too steep for rank beginners, and the
loose volcanic rock stops unskilled riders quickly.
|The terrain is mostly sage brush mixed with bitterbrush and
potentilla. On the southern (out-and-back) end, there are a few stands of
scrub oak. No shade. There's a view of the Snyderville area to the west.
Most of the trail surface is volcanic ash, with bits of pumice here and
there on the trail. Lower on the mountainside, the clay surface was pocked
and rough with horse hoof prints, and a few road apples.
Chunk of pumice on the trail.
||Once you've climbed RocMon to South Canyon, consider the
out-and-back (2.6 miles round trip) around the mountain. It angles slowly
uphill until 0.2 miles from the end, when it drops quickly into the next
canyon. The South Canyon Trail ends where the Browns Canyon road leaves
the highway. Near the road, home construction (August 2010) has
interrupted the path, and to reach the road, you'll need to hoof it along
the construction fence.
Northbound from the RocMon fork.
|The return trip northbound climbs slowly after it leaves the
RocMon fork, then descends as it follows the mountain contour. Not bad
When the trail reaches a fence, it follows the fence west, then north.
This stretch is probably the least exciting section of trail in all of the
Park City area. The trail ends in a metal gate. Go left on the gravel
road, and follow it back toward the parking area.
Heading north through the brush flat
along a fence. You can make out a fencepost on mid-left. Are we there yet?
|South Canyon Loop, counterclockwise:
0.0 At the Promontory sign N40 43.475 W111 28.309
Go 100 feet west, fork L on the
N40 43.471 W111 28.338
2.6 Fork L off Rail Trail N40 41.373 W111 27.477
Go straight through the 1st
gate to ST
(don't veer back north to the
big metal gate)
Start RocMon Trail
3.2 Go through gate, R on South Canyon Trail
N40 41.299 W111 27.201
4.5 At Browns Canyon, turn around
N40 40.953 W111 26.034
5.8 Back at fork, keep straight
6.0 Keep straight N40 41.510 W111 27.128
7.2 Corner of fence, due west along fence
N40 42.282 W111 27.482
7.4 90-degree R, due north along fence
8.4 Through gate, go L on DT
N40 43.136 W111 27.784
DT will gradually turn
from W to N
9.0 L onto paved bike trail
N40 43.449 W111 28.082
9.3 Paved trail ends, cross road to parking
||Getting there: Take I-80 eastbound out of Salt
Lake City and cross Parley's Summit. Pass the Park City exit, then a
couple of miles later, take US-40 south at Silver Creek Junction. In 1
miles, exit at Silver Summit. Turn L (east). Follow the road as it veers
north. At 0.8 miles after leaving US-40, turn right on Promontory Ranch
Road. Continue about 1/2 mile. Just after crossing the Rail Trail, turn
left into a paved parking area with a "Promontory" sign. Begin
the ride by passing the sign at the far end of the parking area and
following the short connector to the Rail Trail.
Bathroom: Outhouse at trailhead.
Water: None at trailhead. Convenience store 1/2 mile away.
Camping: None in immediate area. Nearby at Rockport, Echo, or
Bike Services: Multiple shops with rentals and repairs in Park