If hiking in Utah was a major in college (Utah Hike-ology?), then the Bonneville Shoreline would be its freshman level survey course. The trail is basic, required reading for any would-be hiker, trail runner and mountain biker across the Wasatch Front. Named for its geological significance as the high-water mark of an ancient lake called Bonneville, the trail is essentially the bathtub ring of the water that once filled Salt Lake Valley, before it receded over many thousands of years into the salty inland sea that gives our city its name.
See? It’s educational and fun!
This section is a long but not difficult route that runs above the northern edge of Salt Lake City’s Avenues neighborhood and offers spectacular views of the city below as it meanders along the bench. With the valley laid out below like a toy model, you can count the streets as you move east and locate yourself on city’s orderly grid below. Start at City Creek Canyon, at the horseshoe bend on City Creek Canyon Road. There is a pull out and parking there. Here the trail starts with a stiff climb up to the bench where most of the hike takes place. You’ll emerge into a surprising meadow of amber grasses and begin the main section of the hike, be sure to stop and look down at the valley often. At the end, you’ll descend into Dry Canyon on a winding singletrack trail emerging in the I.J. & Jeanné Wagner Jewish Community Center (JCC) parking lot.
The trail is best hiked in spring, which offers a riot of wildflowers and in fall when the leaves are changing. Because the trail is highly exposed and offers no shade, summer can be a hot slog. Winter, however, also a good option. The trail is so popular and snow gets quickly tracked down and it’s low enough in elevation that it often melts off entirely.
This trail is also uniquely suited to tap into Salt Lake City’s TRAX light rail system and create the ultimate urban hiking tour. Start at the City Creek Center TRAX stop near Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City. From here you can walk up Memory Grove to the back of City Creek Canyon to access the Bonneville Shoreline Trailhead. At the other end, the University Medical Center TRAX stop is just a short walk from the JCC parking lot. You’ll transfer at the Courthouse Stop to either the Blue or Green line to complete the journey back to City Creek Center.
Nearest destinations: Utah Capitol Building, I.J. & Jeanné Wagner Jewish Community Center (JCC), University of Utah Medical Center and campus.
Trailhead parking: Available on the City Creek side
Trailhead GPS coordinates:
City Creek Side
Popperton Park/I.J. & Jeanné Wagner Jewish Community Center
Contributed by Jeremy Pugh