Park City considers future of Rail Trail: restaurants, breweries and bars, anyone? |

Park City considers future of Rail Trail: restaurants, breweries and bars, anyone?

Crowd provides wide-ranging opinions about the beloved historic route

The crowd at a November open house hosted by City Hall provided a wide range of input about the future of the Rail Trail. Some of the opinions were written on sticky notes and affixed to a map of the Park City section of the Rail Trail corridor.
Jay Hamburger/Park Record

Might the Rail Trail be even more popular than it already is if there were improvements to the creek that runs alongside the route?

Or would it take signs explaining the history, and some new restaurants, breweries and bars?

The Rail Trail is a beloved, and important, part of the Park City area’s network of trails, providing pedestrian and bicyclist access between Prospector and other destinations inside Park City before extending 28 miles to Echo Reservoir.

The Rail Trail is a state park, but City Hall owns an approximately 1,000-foot section stretching eastward from the western terminus at the intersection with Bonanza Drive. Park City leaders see the possibility of reaching an agreement with the state to manage and maintain an extended portion of the Rail Trail, encompassing the section to the point where the trail crosses S.R. 248 close to Quinn’s Junction. The section essentially parallels the S.R. 248 entryway to Park City.

Park City officials in November held an open house designed to gather input about the future of the Rail Trail, which follows the route of a former Union Pacific Railroad spur, with the possibility that it will be the municipal government that eventually controls the stretch along the entryway. The event drew a medium-sized crowd to talk with figures involved in the efforts and to provide opinions.

One of the exercises at the event provided especially important input as the crowd placed circular stickers on a series of amenities that are possible for the Rail Trail. Toward the end of the event, crowd members had indicated through the stickers that they were interested in watershed and stream improvements. There were no details listed regarding improvements, but it seems likely those who selected that option were intrigued with the possibility of some sort of beautification project involving the stream.

Some have long seen there being a chance that Poison Creek, which runs through Old Town and out of Park City via the Rail Trail corridor, could somehow be beautified. There have not been recent efforts for a large-scale beautification project, though, and the people at the event only provided scattered details.

Any effort to improve the stream and wider watershed with significant work would likely require extensive discussions at City Hall about topics like water quality, the environment and costs.

There was also interest at the event in the idea of food trucks, restaurants, bars and breweries.

The Rail Trail, shown on the border of Prospector, is a popular with recreation lovers throughout the year. Cross-country skiers and snowshoers are seen on the trail in the winter while bicyclists and joggers are common at other times. The Rail Trail follows a historic railroad route to Echo Reservoir.
Jay Hamburger/Park Record

Some of the other popular potential amenities that were identified at the event also included:

• coffee shops and food trucks

• gardens

• seating

• trash cans and waste disposal

The support for coffee shops, restaurants, food trucks and related amenities was unexpected with the stretch of Rail Trail under consideration so close to the restaurants and other sorts of establishments in the bordering Prospector commercial district. That support was also unanticipated with Parkites seeming to enjoy the Rail Trail as a respite from bustling Prospector.

Trail ideas diverse

The people who attended the November open house left numerous sticky notes on a map of the Rail Trail describing their wishes for improvements.

The notes included a broad list of possibilities, some seeming to be more likely than others.

Some of the messages on the sticky notes included:

• “Skate ski! Keep it separate groom! wider!”

• “add Benches every 0.5 mile along entire trail”

• “make it safe for walkers/Runners . . . “

• “Nature trails + Boardwalks + Faster bike speeds.”

• “Access to Trails Behind P.C. Heights”

• “E-Bike-specific signage. Slow Your Roll”

• “Winter Grooming with ‘lanes’ for — walking — skiing (XC) — fat biking.”

• “Allow home Brewers to grow hops”

• “Aerial Transportation Corridor”

• “Light Rail to Richardson Flats Parking”

It is not known whether Park City officials would support the ideas, but discussions about the section of the Rail Trail are expected in early 2022.

City Hall representatives at the November event spoke to the attendees about possibilities, but the session was designed to gather opinions rather than outline specific proposals from the municipal government.

The open house was a step in a process that is expected to stretch well into 2022. City Hall intends to compile the public input from the event and release the comments in January. An online survey about the section of Rail Trail is also planned in January with the possibility of a Park City Council discussion the next month.

Depending on the outcome of the City Council discussions, there would need to be talks with state officials before any agreement is reached involving City Hall management and maintenance. The negotiations with the state would likely take months to finalize.

The Rail Trail, which became a state park in 1992, is seen as one of the great steps in the efforts to create a trail network through the Park City area. The Rail Trail is popular with bicyclists and hikers in addition to pedestrians who use the route in their daily routine. Cross-country skiers and snowshoers are seen on the Rail Trail in the winter.

The Rail Trail also provides a link to Park City’s history as a silver-mining camp. The railroad was crucial to the transportation of supplies during that era. Union Pacific Railroad abandoned the line along the route that is now the Rail Trail in 1989, according to the state Division of Parks and Recreation.

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