Park City trails draw ‘huge influx’ of Salt Lake Valley dwellers amid coronavirus worries |

Park City trails draw ‘huge influx’ of Salt Lake Valley dwellers amid coronavirus worries

Officials are advising residents to get outside during the time of social distancing, but to maintain the protocols on trails and at trailheads. And to stay off trails if they're muddy.
Tanzi Propst/Park Record

A Park City trails advocate on Friday indicated large crowds of people from the Salt Lake Valley are arriving in the community to use the area’s extensive network, a comment made during a wide-ranging discussion about the reopening of the city after the novel coronavirus shutdown.

Charlie Sturgis, who is the executive director of the not-for-profit Mountain Trails Foundation, said there has been a “huge influx” of Salt Lake Valley residents seen on the trails in the Park City area. The apparent surge has come despite a countywide stay-at-home order that was in place throughout April and directed visitors not to enter the community. That mandate was lifted Friday, though health officials continue to advise people from neighboring counties to stay away.

The trails at lower elevations have generally been dry for several weeks while snow remains on the upper-elevation trails. There have been hikers and bicyclists consistently seen on the lower-elevation trails recently. Many have opted for the trails for exercise after the early end to the ski season and the temporary closure of health clubs, including the Park City Municipal Athletic & Recreation Center, as a result of the coronavirus.

Sturgis indicated people should bring masks and sanitizer while they are on the trails. He said they should wipe their bicycles and gear like gloves with the sanitizer. Sturgis added people on the trails should avoid unnecessary contact with pets owned by others.

Sturgis also said single-direction trails, or those that require all users move in the same direction, would not help the efforts to stop the spread of the illness. He said the concept was researched but not implemented.

Park City Councilor Max Doilney, who also participated on Friday, added that people need to maintain the practice of social distancing at trailheads.

The Park City-area trail system is one of the community’s points of pride as the network stretches from the city itself and into the Snyderville Basin. Many of the trails are popular on a year-round basis as hikers and bicyclists use them in the summer while snowshoers and cross-country skiers are on the trails in the winter. The trails are free and typically open to anyone, regardless of where they live.

People started to flock to the trails shortly after Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort ended the ski season several weeks before scheduled amid the spread of the coronavirus. Sturgis in March said the crowd sizes increased when the mountain resorts closed. Round Valley, one of the lower-elevation locations that draws trail users, was popular as the mountain resorts closed, Sturgis said at the time.

Trail use typically climbs in late spring and into the summer with more routes open as the snow melts. It seems there could be broader worries about the trails at that point should some social distancing restrictions remain intact since issues like user numbers, parking and pets on trails would likely become more pronounced. There could also be widened concern about people from the Salt Lake Valley heavily using the trails under that scenario as Parkites compete with them for parking spots and space on the trails.

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