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Summit County envisions a cultural and historical development along the Rail Trail

Planners want input on desired amenities and improvements around the route

Pamela Manson
For The Park Record
Summit County is creating a master plan for the Rail Trail, which runs from eastern Summit County to Park City. Officials are evaluating ways the trail can be utilized to strengthen the connection between the East Side and the Snyderville Basin, spur economic development and highlight the area’s history.
Photo by Marly Kapacinskas

Since its conversion nearly three decades ago from an abandoned railroad line, the Historic Union Pacific Rail Trail State Park has been a popular location for hiking and cycling, as well as other recreational activities.

The experience at the park could get even better. Summit County officials want to create “The Corridor,” which is the working name for a proposed arts, culture, recreation and tourism development that would run alongside the nearly 30-mile-long trail.

The county is crafting a master plan for the route, which extends from eastern Summit County to Park City. The plan’s goals are to foster a stronger connection between the Snyderville Basin and eastern Summit County; create opportunities for local economic development; highlight the unique culture and history of the area; and celebrate and protect natural resources while also sparking revitalization.



“The impact of these trail projects goes far beyond that of a recreational amenity,” the county says on its project website. “Planning around and investment in these corridors have led to social and economic revitalization for communities across the country.”

Madlyn McDonough, a Summit County planner, called the Rail Trail an amazing amenity and said some of the historically and culturally significant places along and adjacent to the trail are in danger of being lost “if we don’t make really intentional and strategic choices about future land use planning.”



“We want to consider how this basin should be used so that development can be centered around adequate infrastructure and then open space can be maintained and protected as needed,” McDonough said, adding that one objective is to encourage the full use of the whole length of the trail.

Public-private partnerships are one possibility to help fund the project, she said.

Union Pacific completed the rail line in 1869 and abandoned it in 1989. The railroad corridor was converted into a non-motorized recreational trail. The park was dedicated in 1992 and it was inducted into the national Rails to Trails Conservancy Hall of Fame in 2010.

Uses of the trail include walking, biking, running, training, horseback riding, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, McDonough said. People access fishing spots off the trail and bird watchers are among the visitors.

The county has been collecting information from two different surveys. One was created by students who are in the Centers for Advanced Professional Studies program at Park City High School. That survey went to other students and families and received 443 responses.

The other is a longer survey, which was created by the county and posted on the project website. Two University of Utah graduate students who are studying city and metropolitan planning helped create the county survey and so far, about 100 people have filled it out.

Feedback so far shows people want more access to water and restrooms on the trail, McDonough said. Some respondents are interested in seeing more history incorporated into the trail, while others want art highlighted there, she said.

The county is asking for more community input to help in forming a vision for the Rail Trail. Information on the proposed corridor can be found at railtrailsummit.weebly.com.

To take a survey, join a focus group or volunteer as a trail use counter, visit railtrailsummit.weebly.com/get-involved.html. The online survey is available in both English and Spanish. Paper copies are available in Summit County offices at 60 N. Main St. in Coalville.

McDonough encourages everyone to weigh in on plans for The Corridor and urges people to take the longer survey, even if they have already filled out the shorter one.

“The community input is so incredibly helpful,” she said. “We want to hear from as many people as possible — students, regular users, occasional visitors, those who never even heard of the trail. If you’re an artist … an athlete, anyone, we’d love to hear from you.”


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