SLC’s Foothill trails and trailheads getting a facelift this summer

Five trailheads to get makeovers as part of the 2021 Bonneville Shoreline Trail plan.

(Julie Jag | The Salt Lake Tribune) Wildflowers bloom along the City Creek Canyon trail where it merges with the Bonneville Shoreline Trail on Saturday, May 13, 2023. The BST section of the trail between Lower City Creek Loop and the BST junction will be closed between May 16 and June 2 for repairs.

The opening mile of the dirt trail that runs along the west side of City Creek Canyon will be closed for maintenance from Tuesday through approximately June 2.

Part of the 25-year-old, nearly 400-mile Bonneville Shoreline Trail, it will be the first stretch in Salt Lake City to receive a facelift this summer, according to the city’s Public Lands division’s website. Restoration work on other Foothills trails will coincide with Rocky Mountain Power’s replacement of power poles in that area, according to Tyler Fonarow, the city’s recreation trails manager for public lands. The city has also marked several trailheads for renovations.

No realignment will be necessary for the BST West City Creek Trail or any other stretches of the BST this summer, Fonarow said, since most changes to it and other city trails will revolve around reducing erosion, improving watershed and minimizing puddles.

“We’re taking our time,” Fonarow said. “We don’t want to over-commit to anything just because we’re going to learn from this rehabilitation project because it’s the first trail that we’ve formally rehabilitated. So we don’t want to plan anything else until we get this done, see how it goes and then plan the next.”

The City Creek Canyon Trail, as it is known on the All Trails app, will be closed where it connects with Lower City Creek Loop, just above the turnoff to City Creek Canyon Road. The closure will end about a mile to the north, where it connects with the part of the BST that leads to Ensign Peak. Four trail junctions will be repaired as well as several culverts.

The Rocky Mountain Power fire mitigation project will move from west to east across the Foothills in four phases, and Fonorow said the city’s trail repairs will move along with it where possible. Rocky Mountain Power has brought on, at the city’s request, a trail builder and a restoration specialist to fix any trails or surrounding areas damaged during the replacement of the power poles and infrastructure. If the city wants trail work done in the same area, those entities can do it at the same time as the Rocky Mountain Power work, Fonarow said.

One exception to that is work that needs to be performed on property owned by the University of Utah, Utah State Parks or the United States Forest Service. Fonarow said those entities have not yet given the city permission to alter the trails on their property.

Phase 1 of the Rocky Mountain Power project will take place between Dry Creek, near the Jewish Community Center, and Red Butte Garden and is expected to begin in June.

Those trail repairs are not linked to a series of BST trailhead improvements the city also has planned this year.

In 2021, the Utah legislature appropriated $5 million to the construction and upkeep of the BST. Salt Lake City was awarded $1.3 million from that fund to, according to Year-End 2022 BST Status Report, “reconstruct four trailheads between Emigration Canyon and City Creek Canyon.” The city will also match that funding. Those trailheads — actually five in total — are slated to be renovated this year. According to the city’s website, all are set to add paved parking lots, trash and recycling receptacles, dog waste bags and an entry plaza with a trailhead information kiosk.

The one closest to City Creek Canyon is the parking lot off of Bonneville Boulevard known as the “Salt Dome” because the city uses it for road salt storage in the winter. Once renovated, it is expected to have picnic tables, lighting, an events space, an SLC Arts Council installation, a pit toilet and parking for bikes and at least 50 cars in the summer and 15 in the winter.

Another is the Emigration Trailhead near Hogle Zoo. At that site, the city plans to add a crosswalk over Sunnyside Avenue that will link the trailhead to restrooms and facilities at Rotary Glen Park. Also part of the plan are picnic tables and benches, bike racks and parking for 16-20 cars, including an accessible parking spot.

The other three trailheads the city wants to improve include the ones on Hilltop Road, in Popperton Park — which includes a toilet and water fountain — and on Victory Road, also known as the Hell Canyon Trailhead, which is the westernmost access point to the Foothills Trail System.

In addition to upgraded trailheads, Fonarow said hikers, bikers and runners should be on the lookout for better signage. Starting this fall, he said the city expects to put up signs up at even smaller intersections and at neighborhood access points in the Foothills to help users navigate the network of trails.