Bonneville Shoreline Trail
Northern Salt Lake City
The Bonneville Shoreline Trail is a series of trails along the slope of
the Wasatch Mountains where the old shoreline of Lake Bonneville met the hills. Sections
of trail are found from Ogden to Payson. The northern Salt Lake City section extends from
City Creek Canyon to Emigration Canyon.
Bruce (the Mad Scientist)
rolls along the ridge above Salt Lake City. Photo by Matt Flygare, January 22, 2000.
This section of the BST extends from
Emigration Canyon near the zoo to City Creek behind the state capitol. For
a trail that follows the foothills above a very urban area, it feels
surprisingly like "nature."
a break in the January snowstorm, Matt rides the Bonneville Shoreline near City
The route I describe below is a quick 10-mile loop from City
Creek that covers 7 miles of trail, then a 3-mile road return. We'd rate this an advanced
aerobic ride, intermediate technical. Although not a year-round trail, it's rideable during
temporary winter thaws. In the winter, we'd raise its rating to advanced technical because
of steep climbs in mud and snow, slippery surfaces on steep side-slopes, and some rough
Handlebar view of the snowy
trail, with the old antique GPS unit getting the trail waypoints, but not
The trail begins on Bonneville Drive just east of the City Creek Canyon
road (see below), with a few parking places at the trailhead (GPS N 40° 47.388' W 111°
52.709'). There's a stiff climb on singletrack, 650 vertical feet over the first mile. On
a summer's morning, it's not bad. In the winter, it can be downright brutal. You'll climb
3 miles to the divide above City Creek Canyon. Total elevation gain is 1250 feet.
Rob climbs the singletrack heading west past
the U Med Center on the southern portion of the BST.
April 30, 2002.
After winding around a few canyons, at around mile 5 the singletrack loops
around Limekiln Gulch. It then runs straight down Dry Gulch to the Avenues Trailhead. This
is a GREAT descent. But keep your speed under control so you don't crash into a runner or
Looking southeast along the trail. Scattered snow flurries,
slime on a frozen base. Heaven. Photo looking over Doc Argyle's handlebars, January 22,
||From the Avenues Trailhead (GPS N 40° 46.658' W 111° 50.225'), you can
head left past the University of Utah Hospital towards the Emigration Canyon end of the
trail. Or, fork right and climb a short distance until you hit the paved recreation
trail that rolls past Popperton Park.
Dump onto the city street next to the trail and head straight until you're on 11th Avenue.
Continue until 11th turns right on Bonneville Drive, then roll on back to the City Creek
accelerates to the
bottom of Dry Gulch, on his way to catching two vertical feet of air (and
crashing) at the trail's exit.
January 22, 2000
In the northern section of Salt Lake's Bonneville Shoreline, you're riding on
alluvial deposits -- a mixture of rock, sand, and dirt washed down from the
mountains into Lake Bonneville. Lake Bonneville existed from 1 million years ago
until around the end of the Ice Age, 10 thousand years ago.
Mule's Ears bloom along the trail in
the spring sunshine. Photo courtesy of Han Kim, May 2003.
||Southeast of Dry Gulch, the trail becomes more tame. This section from the U
Med Center to Emigration Canyon is fairly easy, with little altitude gain. There
are several alternate trails, which usually rejoin after a half-mile or so.
Looking west toward the Oquirrh
Mountains as the trail winds around a canyon during an April ride.
Another very nice option is a short loop ride using the famous Bobsled as
your downhill. There are three ways to get up: via City Creek, via Terrace
Hills, or via Dry Gulch and the Popperton paved trail. The most direct of these
routes is to grind up paved Terrace Hills 0.65 mile to the trailhead,
then another 0.3 to reach the BST.
Arrowleaf balsamroot blooms along the trail
Keep right at the fork and climb southeast
0.5 miles to arrive at the top of the Bobsled. After the initial spooky steep
loose-rock surf, you have 1.5 miles of twisting fun until you dump out on
Chandler and turn right to get back to Terrace Hills Drive. PS - Don't even
dream of riding uphill on the Bobsled.
|Getting there, City Creek trailhead: From
North Temple, head north uphill on E Street (around 5th East). At 11th Avenue, turn left and drive until
11th Avenue ends at the edge of City Creek Canyon. Turn right on the
one-way (no passing: the left lane is for bikers and pedestrians). Pull
over at the small parking area at the bottom of the canyon (GPS N 40°
47.388' W 111° 52.709'). If you go past the paved City Creek Canyon road,
you've gone too far.
Terrace Hills: On 11th Avenue, turn uphill onto Terrace
Hills Drive, then immediately turn left into the parking area. From the parking lot, ride 0.65 mile
uphill on Terrace Hills to the trailhead,
on your right at the dead-end. Climb another 0.3 to reach the BST.
Photo courtesy of Han Kim, May 2003.
Popperton Park: Go east on 11th to Popperton Park. Pedal east on the
paved bike trail until it drops over the shoulder of the foothill into a
wide gravel area. This is the Dry Gulch trailhead GPS N 40° 46.658' W 111°
50.225'. Turn left and begin climbing the Bonneville Shoreline Trail.
Red Butte: On Foothill Blvd, turn towards the mountains on Wakara Way. Just
before the entry to Red Butte Gardens, turn right and park anywhere along the
road. Find a "feeder trail" that climbs about 100 yards uphill to the
This is the Place: From Foothill Blvd, turn east on Sunnyside Avenue. Park
near This is the Place monument and find the trailhead on Sunnyside Avenue. Go
northeast around the state park on a steep climb.
Copyright 2002 Mad Scientist Software Inc