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Ensign Peak
City Creek and Bountiful Bonneville Shoreline Trail

This trail is located on the mountains above the farthest-north section of Salt Lake City. Although called the "Ensign Peak Trail" by bikers, it's actually the Bonneville Shoreline Trail (BST). While many bikers will take a side trip to a mountain top viewpoint -- which makes a good turn-around spot -- few actually drop down to Ensign Peak.

View up City Creek Canyon early in the ride. Photos and ride description by Bruce, October 20, 2008.

This page describes three riding options: (1) Straight-through trip from City Creek to Bountiful on the BST, 5 miles each way. Hard-core types will then ride to North Canyon on city streets and do the loop to descend Mueller Park, then backtrack. 27 miles, 3700 feet of climbing. Hard, but not as hard as it sounds. (2) BST to Wild Rose for a quick loop before heading back. (3) Climb from City Creek to the peak above Ensign Peak and backtrack. 6 miles, 900 feet of climbing. This route has my recommendation. (3) Up BST then drop down to Ensign Peak and descend directly to the city. Loop back on road for 3.5 miles ST, 2.1 miles pavement.

Typical handlebar view during the first 1.5 miles of the trail.

The trail starts in City Creek Canyon, where the canyon road meets Bonneville Blvd (the one-way road that loops from the avenues to the state capitol). On the north side of the creek (at the road) is the northbound BST; south of the creek is the southbound BST. One mile up the canyon, the BST forks sharply left uphill off the City Creek trail. (No bikes are permitted off-pavement beyond this point in City Creek.) 

We've exited the forest, and the singletrack is climbing steadily westward below conglomerate cliffs.

You'll climb steeply up a dozen switchbacks, then the trail heads west as it continues climbing toward the ridgeline. Once the trail reaches the ridgeline at mile 2.2, you can select among the various riding options.

Viewpoint out-and-back:  You can follow the ridge west 0.4 miles to a viewpoint, then backtrack for an out-and-back 6-mile round trip. The descent down the BST's switchbacks is fun fun fun. Or you can take that side trip then continue on the ST of the BST northward. But you definitely want to hit this viewpoint.

At the same point as the photo above, we look down the hill over the rich folk subdivision and toward buildings of Salt Lake.

You might conclude that this mountain-top viewpoint is Ensign Peak. It's not. Look west and down. See the stone spire? To get to Ensign Peak, backtrack 0.1 mile to a less-used trail that forks west and descends steeply. If you go to Ensign Peak, you'll need to climb back out (a hike-a-bike) or commit to the loop ride.

Loop ride:  From the fork 0.1 mile before the viewpoint, descend the steep loose trail. It gets worse. Once you've gone down, you won't want to go back up. Go straight across the little saddle as the trail from the valley joins. Visit Ensign Peak, then backtrack.

From the viewpoint above Ensign Peak, we're looking east into City Creek Canyon.

To make a loop, turn right (south) on the broad trail descending toward the city. It plunges down 1/2 mile to a monument on Ensign Vista Drive. There are a LOT of log-drops on this trail. But on a weekend, there will also be a lot of people hiking up. So if you descend this trail, be very careful.

At the top of Ensign Peak. Most bikers don't go actually go to Ensign Peak. If you go, your choices are: back up the steep sloppy ridge, or down a short crowded trail to city streets.

Once you hit city streets, you'll need to go southwest quite a ways to catch Bonneville Blvd, which will then turn you back northeast along the side of City Creek Canyon. See the high-res topo map link below.

A bit of Utah history. If you descend the trail from the peak, be careful. Should you hit a hiker, you can be sure a "No Bikes" sign will appear quickly on this trail!

Bonneville BST option:  If you proceed north from the ridgeline on the BST, you'll ride a mile of fabulous singletrack that winds around small canyons. The trail is bordered by low oak scrub with constant views. In the spring, expect to see mules ear and other wildflowers. Great stuff. Then the trail dumps onto gravel road near a radio tower.

Looking southeast at the Wasatch Front.

Climbing 0.1 mile to the ridgeline near the tower, you'll see a rocky dirt road dropping into Jones Canyon. This is the continuation of the BST. On the other side of the canyon, it turns into clay and dirt as it snakes through an ocean of grassland. Not exactly high-voltage here. But go ahead and crank out this easy 1.8 miles. You deserve some easy cruiser miles. You'll hit pavement at Tunnel Springs Park. Good spot to turn back. Or to connect to another trail. See below.

On the BST singletrack, we're passing through waist-high oak scrub.

Getting to North Canyon for the Mueller Park Epic:  At the northern end of the dirt BST at Tunnel Springs Park, continue north on the asphalt version along Eaglepoint Drive. (Cross the street when it turns to cement sidewalk.)  When you reach Eagle Ridge Drive near at the golf course, turn right. (Left on Eagle Ridge will take you, eventually, to US-89.) Stay on Eagle Ridge Drive as it becomes Bountiful Blvd. Keep going a couple of miles until you hit Canyon Creek Drive, where you turn right. At the end of Canyon Creek, doubletrack leads you up to the North Canyon singletrack. When you've finished the trip down Mueller Park, ride down the Mueller Park Road and turn left on Bountiful Blvd to retrace your way back to the BST.

View north on as we approach North Salt Lake and Bountiful on the BST. Some cruising here.

Wild Rose trails:  At the northern end of the dirt BST at Tunnel Springs Park (mile 5.0), continue north on the asphalt version along Eaglepoint Drive. When the asphalt ends in cement sidewalk at mile 5.4, cross the street, looking for singletrack in a grove of maples on the uphill side of the continuing BST. Turn right uphill to begin the Wild Rose Loop.

View northwest from the BST, with the marshlands of the Great Salt Lake on the west side of I-15.

Riding notes, BST to Bountiful (bypass peak):
0.0   ST uphill at City Creek Road - Bonneville Blvd
        N40 47.416 W111 52.740
0.05 Fork R uphill  N40 47.411 W111 52.793
0.4   Straight (R = to road)   N40 47.652 W111 52.592
1.0   L uphill (R = no bikes)   N40 48.089 W111 52.351
2.2   Fork R on ridgeline   N40 48.088 W111 53.225
        (Option: short ridgeline jaunt to viewpoint and back, adds 0.8 mile)
3.2   Fork R on DT   N40 48.197 W111 53.708
3.3   Straight, down on BST  N40 48.291 W111 53.808
5.0   End of dirt. Cross road  N40 49.356 W111 54.141
5.4   Asphalt crosses to E side of road
5.6   At Eagle Ridge Drive

Tunnel Springs Park. End of the dirt for the BST. Photo 2012.

Riding notes, Ensign Peak Loop (from City Creek Trailhead):
0.0   ST uphill at City Creek Road - Bonneville Blvd N40 47.416 W111 52.740
0.05 Fork R uphill  N40 47.411 W111 52.793
0.4   Straight (R = to road)   N40 47.652 W111 52.592
1.0   L uphill (R = no bikes)   N40 48.089 W111 52.351
2.2   Fork L on ridgeline   N40 48.088 W111 53.225
2.5   Fork L up to viewpoint   N40 47.914 W111 53.257
2.6   Viewpoint. Backtrack   N40 47.878 W111 53.206
2.7   Hard L (at previous fork) and drop down west
2.9   Keep straight, head up to peak   N40 48.291 W111 53.808
3.0   At monument. Backtrack
3.1   R downhill (at previous fork)
3.4   Straight (L), R = view   N40 47.590 W111 53.305
3.5   At road (Ensign Vista Drive), go L   N40 47.734 W111 53.445
3.8   Fork R on East Capitol Blvd   N40 47.523 W111 52.964
4.7   Fork L onto Bonneville Blvd (ignore "One Way" - applies to cars) N40 46.800 W111 53.129
5.6   Back at parking

View back uphill on the trail downhill from Ensign Peak -- a typical series of log drops.

Getting there:  From North Temple in Salt Lake City, head north uphill on E Street (around 5th East). At 11th Avenue, turn left and drive until 11th Avenue ends at the edge of City Creek Canyon. Turn right on the one-way (no passing: the left lane is for bikers and pedestrians). As you reach the turn to cross the creek, pull over at the small parking area at the bottom of the canyon (GPS N 40 47.388' W 111 52.709'). The trail starts across the creek, on the north side of the paved City Creek road. If the parking spot is full, find roadside parking around the bend.

Riding resources for this trail:
Single-page riding guide
GPS track files and route (right-click and "Save as..."):
   GPX multi track   Ensign Peak from BST Only
   Bonneville Shoreline Trail Only
High-res topo map:  View
Lodging, camping, shops:
       Links to northern SLC resources
       Links to Ogden area resources

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