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Fat Tire Heaven: Endless Trails Minutes from Salt Lake

Published: 05/31/2007

Just minutes from downtown Salt Lake, above the city’s historic Avenues district, you can see them: spandex-clad, helmeted bikers leaving the work day behind and hitting the trail. Up here, on the Bonneville Shoreline, there’s one called the “Bobsled” – named for its steep banks and a fast single track.  ( And that’s just one of hundreds along the slopes of the Wasatch and beyond.

Few cities can boast mountains close enough for cyclists to pedal from city streets to single track in less than an hour, but for many locals, a post-workday ride through the hills is a daily routine.  The city's close trails have also become a draw for visiting convention delegates and leisure travelers who can find ample, state-of-the-art bike rental shops and tour guides such as Tailwinds Bicycle Tours around the city. With hundreds of miles of trails surrounding Salt Lake, ranging from high-elevation, rock-strewn single track to meandering historic pioneer pathways, it's no wonder the area draws outdoor enthusiasts here for vacations as well as jobs. Following are locals' recommendations for some of the most popular mountain biking areas and trails.

Lift-assisted mountain biking: Both Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort (801-933-2222, and Solitude Mountain Resort (801-534-1400, allow riders to forgo pedaling up the mountain before enjoying the descent. Hitching a ride on a chair lift with your bike snugly secured behind you, reveling in the awesome mountain landscape, is just the ticket to start that adrenaline pumping before beginning your descent.  Both resorts print trail maps and offer mountain bike rentals by the hour, half day, and full day.

Bonneville Shoreline Trail: This beginner-to-intermediate, single- and double-track trail is a more moderate option than the “Bobsled”.  It rambles behind historic Fort Douglas, the University of Utah, and Red Butte Garden along natural terraces left behind by an immense ice-age lake that shaped the edge of the Salt Lake valley thousands of years ago. Begin at the Sunnyside trailhead, located at the mouth of Emigration Canyon at the east entrance of This Is The Place State Park Follow the trail north to the Popperton Park trailhead and retrace the route back to Sunnyside.  The Shoreline Trail opens to long views across the valley—from the Great Salt Lake to west and the Wasatch Mountains to the east.

Millcreek Canyon Pipeline: This intermediate, single-track trail follows the contours of Millcreek Canyon's northern slope. Highlights include a panoramic view of the Salt Lake valley, from Point of the Mountain to the Great Salt Lake. To access, travel southbound on Interstate 215 to exit 3 (3900 South) and turn left onto 3900 South. Turn left at Wasatch Boulevard. Turn right (east) on Millcreek Canyon Road (3800 South). Elbow Fork, the beginning of the trail, is five miles up the canyon from the fee station. (We recommend you leave a shuttle vehicle down canyon at the Rattlesnake Gulch trailhead.)

Wasatch Crest Trail: One of the Wasatch Range's premier advanced-skill-level rides, this trail takes bikers through sun-dappled aspen groves and alpine meadows and past craggy mountain peaks. Tackle this trail, by starting from one shuttle vehicle, at the top of Guardsman Pass (accessed via Big Cottonwood Canyon). Follow the trail from Scott's Pass along the spine of the Wasatch Mountains down through Millcreek Canyon. Ride the pavement to the Olympus Hills Mall, a good place to leave the other shuttle vehicle.

Moab and beyond: Salt Lake is also the closest metropolitan gateway to Moab and the famed mountain biking Mecca of Southern Utah's red rock country. During the past few years, mountain bike enthusiasts have started planning an extra day to explore the Rocky Mountains in Salt Lake en route to Moab's red rock landscape.

The Salt Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau is a private, non-profit corporation responsible for the promotion of Salt Lake as a convention and travel destination. Salt Lake is a unique fusion of metropolitan city and quaint mountain town; the towering Wasatch Mountains that embrace Salt Lake offer a dramatic backdrop to the vibrancy and activities of downtown. Having recently undergone a $58 million expansion, the Salt Palace Convention Center now boasts 679,000 square feet of exhibit and meeting space, ideal for groups of all sizes and needs. For more information on all that Salt Lake has to offer, visit