Historic Union Pacific Rail Trail, Utah

From Utah State Parks and Mountain Trails Foundation

A scenic trail that runs 28 miles through Utah's mountain valleys east of Salt Lake City.

by American Trails Staff

June 01, 2006

Autumn on the Historic Union Pacific Rail Trail

Featured
National Recreation Trail

Designated in 2006


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in the NRT Database

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This 28-mile rail-trail and bikeway traverses areas rich in cultural history, such as the Wasatch Mountains near Park City and the wetland meadows in Silver Creek Canyon, providing not only recreational opportunities for local residents, but alternative transportation options as well.

The "Rail Trail," as it is commonly known, follows the historic route of the Union Pacific railroad spur from the mining town of Park City to the main Union Pacific Railroad line still in use at Echo.

The entire trail is 28 miles long with four different access points along the route The trail traverses areas rich in cultural history from the Wasatch Mountains near Park City, across wetland meadows in Silver Creek Canyon, through the rural towns of Wanship and Coalville, and along the scenic Weber River, to Echo Reservoir. The Rail Trail parallels 1-80 and often runs between the lanes.

This meandering trail is ideal for beginners and families along any segment of the route or more advanced bikers looking for a long-distance ride. The Rail Trail is a strong spine with connections to the sprawling 335 miles of trail in Park City. The latest connection is the acquisition of the Phoston Spur which will directly link the Rail Trail with the towns of Heber and Midway and eventually link the entire Wasatch Back, from Provo to Park City.

Perhaps one of the most unique aspects is the partnership between Utah State Parks and Mountain Trails Foundation of Park City which manages the trail under contract. This successful partnership has resulted in a well-managed, well-maintained trail for many years.

The Rail Trail provides exceptional recreational opportunities but also provides transportation for the Hispanic community that uses the trail as a route to the resorts, restaurants, ski areas and public transportation. It is not unusual to encounter the broad population that uses the trail from joggers, dog walkers, kids walking to school, mountain bikers, geocachers, endurance athletes and birdwatchers on the "in town" section of the trail.

Dog sled on Historic Union Pacific Rail Trail near Park City, Utah; photo by Bob Kollar

Dog sled on Historic Union Pacific Rail Trail near Park City, Utah; photo by Bob Kollar

There are quirky sculptures provided by Park City's "phantom sculptor" which pop up in unusual places and brings a smile to the face of the unsuspecting trail users. The Rail Trail also connects with the brand new Quinn's Recreation Fields and Ice Rink which will open winter 2006 and will surely be the route used by youngsters for safe access to the soccer and baseball fields. The Rail Trail also connects with National Ability Center.

The Historic Union Pacific Rail Trail has been open since 1992, and is one of America's first 500 rail trails. The fairly level topography often provides the first trail experience for many visitors and beginners in this high altitude mountain town. The Park City trailhead area has experienced an economic redevelopment lately with Rail Central which houses restaurants, a bike shop and office space.

The trail rises along the old railroad bed at an average grade of 2 percent with a maximum grade of trail 3 percent. Lowest elevation is 5200 feet and the highest elevation is 6900 feet at Park City. The average width of the trail tread is over 12 feet. Accessibility information is available at trailhead signs, in the brochure, and on the website. An Interpretive Historical Brochure is also available.

For more information

Utah State Parks website