Living along the Wasatch Front means easy access to some fantastic trails. Here’s my Top Ten List of trails for Northern Utah.
10. Green Canyon – A favorite of the Logan crowd, GreenCanyon provides shaded single track flanked by soaring limestone cliffs that quickly climbs to the Naomi Wilderness. Runners can expect cool temps in the morning and a moose or two munching on the abundant green snacks on the side of the trail.
9. Mid-Mountain Trail – This Park City Classic rambles for 26 miles from Deer Valley Resort to the Canyons Resort. If you’ve wanted to try a longer trail race but are still a bit nervous about the Ultra distance, then the Mid Mountain Marathon run in early September is the perfect choice. The cooler temps and the fantastic scenery make this trail and race a classic.
8. Mueller Park – Tucked in a nook in Southern Davis County, the Mueller Park Trail entices runners with its steady six mile climb to Rudy Flats. After a short, steep climb the trail meanders through shaded sections that provide a pleasant reprise from our normal summer heat.
7. Bonneville Shoreline Trail – With easy access from virtually anywhere along the Wasatch Front, the BoSho is the bread and butter for most urban trail runners. For the SLCer’s, the rolling single track from BlackMountain trail junction to the bottom of Dry Creek is pure heaven. With a shout out to my Ogden peeps, the six miles from BeusCanyon to RainbowGardens hugs the mountain side as it passes in and out of four different canyons.
6. Indian Trail – Another Ogden gem, this trail is usually run in an out and back fashion for a total of nine miles. Starting from 22nd street, runners are immediately treated to a steep power hike that gives way to views of OgdenCanyon to the north and Nevada to the west. After reaching the high point you pass a “poor weather” hut and descend through evergreens, hop down the rock steps, and scurry past the campsites until you reach the Smokey the Bear sign in OgdenCanyon.
5. Antelope Island – In the winter and spring the “Island” becomes a magnet for trail runners seeking snow free trails as they prep their legs for the upcoming trail races (http://www.buffalorun.org/). Running on the island is a unique experience as you wearily pass the roaming bison. Run the Split Rock Loop and you’ll feel like you’re hundreds of miles away from civilization as you explore the west side of the island.
4. Snowbasin/Sardine Loop – The Snowbasin trail system is a great place for both novice and experienced trail runners. The number one trail has eight miles of moderate climbing through scrub oak and aspen stands to the top of the Needles Gondola where you can get a quick drink of water before bombing eight miles down the number three trail to the resort’s base. If you’re looking for a shorter jaunt, park in the lower Snowbasin lot and hit the Sardine Loop. This 8 mile loop was recently completed in the fall of 2010 and has 1,100 feet of climbing before you get killer views of Pineview Reservoir. Run this trail in the fall as the maples and aspens explode in color.
3. Upper Big Water to Scotts Pass – The Tri-Canyons (Mill Creek, Big Cottonwood, and Little Cottonwood) area could easily have its own top ten trails. I chose two that would appeal to both rookie and veteran trail runners. This trail begins at the end of Mill Creek and climbs through evergreens to DogLake. Keep climbing east past DesolationLake until your on the ridge overlooking both Salt Lake City and ParkCity. Follow this ridge south until you reach the radio towers. From here you have two options: 1) turn around and run 10 miles back to Mill Creek or 2) descend two miles to GuardsmanPass. Both choices will definitely make your quads scream for mercy!
2. Brighton to Albion Basin – From the parking lot of Brighton ski resort follow the trail three miles up past numerous lakes and under several peaks to the 10, 220 foot Catherine Pass. Descend the west side of the pass into AlbionBasin for what is surely the best wildflower viewing in Utah. Once you have reached the AlbionBasin trailhead you can reverse course for an easy 10 miler or if you’re more inclined for a challenge, you can run up the service road to the top of the Alta ski resort for a long alpine day.
1. Ben Lomond – This trail begins at the top of the North Ogden divide and ascends eight miles and 3,500 feet to the peak. The first few miles of rocky sage and tight switch backs ascend to evergreens and aspen stands. The real reason Ben Lomond is number one for myself and many other trail runners is the “ridge” that leads to the summit. GoogleBen LomondPeak and the very first image you’re likely to see is one of the ridge and its magnificent beauty. After traversing the ridge, runners are treated to a 1,000 foot climb in one and a half miles to the summit of Ben Lomond where you’ll have unobscured views of Willard Peak to the north and likely a few mountain goats who make Ben Lomond their home. The eight miles of downhill is a true test of your leg speed as you can fly down the mountain.
By Joel Hatch