Rail Trail offers exercise options during interim | ParkRecord.com

Rail Trail offers exercise options during interim

Lisa Nyren , Record guest writer

A biker cruises along on the paved section of the Rail Trail. Grayson West/Park Record

As the snow slowly melts off the mountains, and the ski resorts close, it might seem like there is no where to go to stretch your legs and do a little outdoor exercising. It is too cold to hike up the mountain resorts, and the snow on those trails is bound to be knee-deep in parts. So where can the average person go in the off-season for a light bike ride or run?

Though spring has sprung and mud season is creeping in, the Historic Union Pacific Rail Trail is cleaned and maintained, mostly mud-free, just waiting to be biked, hiked or jogged on. Mountain Trails, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving trails, grooms and keeps the trail with help from the Snyderville Basin Special Recreation District and Park City Municipal.

A non-motorized biking, cross-country skiing, hiking and horseback riding trail, the Rail Trail totals 29.36 miles in Summit and Wasatch counties, according to the Mountain Trails Web site. Beginning in Park City near Sun Creek Condos just off Prospector, the Rail Trail was used in the late 19th century for transportation to and from silver ore mines in the area. The Echo and Park City railroad became part of the Union Pacific Railroad in 1900, and it was later deeded to the State of Utah Division of Parks and Recreation in 1989.

If the trail’s history isn’t enough to persuade you to put on your running shoes and fill up your water bottle, the scenic tour of the trail should attract your attention. The Rail Trail follows the eastern shore of Echo Reservoir into Coalville where it runs along I-80 and up Silver Creek Canyon. The Park City branch travels east of Bonanza Drive.

With bird-watchers and nature-lovers in mind, Mountain Trails employs three "path-o-logists" each year who are in charge of, among other things, working on signage for the trail that directs users to things like the best wildlife viewing areas, said Carol Potter, executive director of the organization.

The Rail Trail is partially paved, and it is well grated on the parts that it’s not. Mountain Trails is working on getting more of the trail and the trailheads paved, said Potter. The trailheads can get a little muddy, she said.

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The State of Utah Natural Resources Division of Parks and Recreation recommends that those who use the trail take simple safety precautions before setting out for a bike, hike or horseback ride. It is suggested that you bring plenty of water and that you prepare yourself with extra clothes for Utah’s frequent weather changes. Pets are allowed on the trail, but they must be on a leash no longer than six feet in length.

The sun has been out in Park City in recent weeks, and the clear days are perfect for a stroll along this historic landmark. While spring days melt away a winter’s worth of snow on the mountains, the Rail Trail offers those who crave outdoor activity a place to channel their energy and enjoy a little Park City history at the same time.

Visits http://www.mountaintrails.org for more information on the Rail Trail and Mountain Trails organization. Mountain Trails events and trail conditions can also be found on the Web site.

Also visit http://www.basinrecreation.com and http://www.parkcity.org for additional information on the Rail Trail and other area trails.

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