Happy Trails

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I love to drive new clients up the hill to the state capitol building, park, and show them the view of the entire Salt Lake Valley. You have to admit, it’s a breathtaking vista (when there’s no smog/inversion)!  Our bowl of a valley used to be a prehistoric lake that dried up a bazillion years ago, with only the dregs left today (aka ‘The Great Salt Lake’) to see. What’s super cool is that you can follow the ancient Bonneville shoreline with your finger as you stand there and look out, and point all the way around the east/Wasatch range and the west/Oquirrh range. And if you walk that line and pay attention, you can find evidence of life long gone-trilobite fossils, preserved flora and fauna. I have found several groovy rocks in my day up by the concrete “U” on the hill above the university.

In most U.S. cities with mountains nearby, the hills leading up to them are called ‘foothills’.  Here we call them ‘benches’. For some time, residents have been working with city and county officials to complete the Bonneville Shoreline Trail along the east bench of this valley. This amazing feat will one day stretch from the Idaho border to Nephi, more than 280 miles (go to bonnevilleshorelinetrail.org to see the full map and proposed works in progress). Trails like this improve life in so many ways and frankly, adds to property values of the folks who live within close distance of them. And people who don’t live so close want easy connections to get there.

According to Salt Lake City Trails & Natural Lands Program, “There are nearly 100 miles of “trails” in the Salt Lake City foothills, all of which will be considered by a proposed Foothill Trail System Plan. Of all these trails, only the Bonneville Shoreline Trail was professionally constructed with the intent of non-motorized recreation. Many existing trails in the foothills are unsustainable due to steep grades, widespread soil erosion, and costly maintenance challenges. Trailhead, wayfinding and regulatory signage is virtually absent. Lack of coherent trail design has created a system of trails that is unapproachable to many entry-level trail users, and that becomes increasingly prone to user-conflicts as use increases. Once approved, the Foothill Trail System Plan will mitigate user confusion, promote connectivity with the City’s alternative transportation networks, and minimize environmental issues (including challenges in protected watershed areas).” The 10-year time line for the project will apply to the benches between Emigration Canyon and the southern boundary of Davis County.

If you want more information on the Foothill Trail System, there are two public meetings coming up:  3/28 5:30-7:30 at the Natural History Museum and 4/2 6-8 PM at the Sweet Branch Library at 455 F Street or log in at www.slcgov.com/TrailsPlan.