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Bonneville Shoreline Trail
City Creek to Dry Gulch.

The Bonneville Shoreline Trail is a series of trails along the slope of the Wasatch Mountains where the old shoreline of Lake Bonneville met the hills. Sections of trail are found from Brigham City to Payson. The northern Salt Lake City section extends from City Creek Canyon to Emigration Canyon.

Bruce the Mad Scientist rolls along the BST above Salt Lake City. Photo by Matt Flygare, January 22, 2000. Latest update to this page September 10, 2021.

This page covers the BST between City Creek Canyon on the west and Dry Gulch (near the U of U) on the east. This area has become more complex with new trail construction and the designation of bike-only, hiking-only, and one-way trails. The goal is to provide more recreational opportunity while keeping hikers and downhill mountain bikers separated where possible. As of September 2021, this is still a work in progress.

Climbing away from the pavilion City Creek trailhead on the new uphill-only East City Creek BST.

The City Creek to Dry Gulch segment is 7 miles long, and you'll climb around 1300 vertical feet on a one-way ride. For riders who are new to the area, navigation can be confusing. This is particularly true when riding from west to east. In 2021 there are very few trail signs, and those that exist are not very helpful. A GPS-enabled navigation app is strongly recommended.

Looking west over the northern Salt Lake Valley from the Bonneville Bench (near the 18th Street trailhead).

Although some of the more difficult bits of the BST have been rebuilt, there are still some fairly stiff fall-line climbing pitches with loose round rocks. So while much of the trail is very easy riding, overall this trail earns an intermediate rating.

Contouring the hillside on a very easy section of the BST.

 
West to East navigation from City Creek to Dry Gulch!

Start on the singletrack across the street from the pavilion parking area on one-way Bonneville Blvd in City Creek. You'll need to access it from the intersection of 11th Avenue with B Street. (Note that the old BST at the City Creek Road turnoff is now a one-way downhill-only trail. So if you're doing an out-and-back, your descending route will be a different trail from the outgoing climb.)

Just getting started. Passing through wild elm and box elder as we leave Bonneville Blvd.

The initial climb is fairly steady exertion on the one-way City Creek BST. You'll gain 500 vertical feet. The trail is bench-cut dirt with a bit of loose alluvial rock. This section of climbing can be managed by a strong experienced beginning rider.

The climbing pitch is descent. A few steeper spots may give you some trouble if the surface is loose.

This first section of the ride in City Creek Canyon lies in oak and box elder forest. Once you've reached the Bonneville Bench, the rest of the ride is sun-exposed grass with occasional small groves of oak.

Passing through a gambel oak grove riding east into the morning sun.

After one mile of climbing, pass the I Street bike park on your right (at this spot, the downhill trail is just a few feet downhill on your left).

Arriving at the bottom of the I Street bike park. Keep left.

Continue uphill until you reach a flat area at the old Lake Bonneville shoreline. Here's where navigation gets tricky.

At mile 1.3, veer left uphill at the trail fork. (The right fork traverses past the top of the I Street bike park to the 18th Avenue trailhead.) As you reach the broad doubletrack, turn to the left, then pick the right-hand side as the wide trail splits. Your goal is to work eastbound into the broad valley on the other side of the wide dirt road.

Almost to the Bonneville shelf at mile 1.2 and 450 vertical feet.

If you find yourself looking south at a broad path, you went the wrong way. This is the old reservoir road, and it's now a connector to the 18th Street trailhead. (This trailhead is used by both hikers and by riders at the I Street bike park.)

If this is your handlebar view, you went the wrong way. We're looking down the old reservoir road toward the 18th Avenue trailhead.

 When you see singletrack on your right across the valley, take it. This little segment of two-way trail combines the two-way BST with the 19th Avenue trail. Behind your back, this segment of trail enters the one-way downhill bikes-only final segment of the 19th Avenue trail -- and it will be your return route if you're doing the route out-and-back.

This short stretch of trail is the combined 19th Street and BST. The downhill end of the upper 19th Street trail joins on the left at the far side of the valley, while the BST veers to the right up the small canyon.

At the end of the valley, the 19th Avenue trail comes in from the left. Keep straight and begin a cruel stretch of climbing on an older, non-improved segment of the BST.

After 2.1 miles, keep level and straight as a doubletrack from Terrace Hills Drive crosses.

And now we're climbing the canyon past box elder trees.

At mile 2.5 from the trailhead, turn right at a singletrack trail fork. The left-hand option goes 100 yards up to join the 19th Avenue trail for a shorter ride option.

At mile 3, keep straight as a connector from Terrace Hills Drive joins on the downhill side.

View of downtown Salt Lake. In the foreground, the 18th Street trailhead is just left of the water tank. The I Street park is to the right of this photo.

At mile 3.5, there's a 180-degree turn onto 19th Avenue, which lies just uphill from the BST. 19th Avenue is a one-way, bikes-only return route to the bottom of City Creek.

View along the BST as we approach Bobsled.

At mile 3.7, pass the entry into the Bobsled downhill trail.

4.7 miles from City Creek, pass the Tomahawk downhill trail on your right, then at mile 5.5 pass the Limekiln Gulch trail, descending on your right.

The trail will then descend into Dry Gulch, turn southbound, and descend back to the city. Be cautious on this descent! You're sharing the trail with dogs and people!

Looking east.

At mile 7, you're at the bottom. You can continue on the BST southeast or turn around for an out-and-back (2500 vertical feet, 14 miles). Or, fork right and climb a short distance until you hit the paved recreation trail that rolls past Popperton Park. Dump onto the city street next to the trail and head straight until you're on 11th Avenue. Continue until 11th turns right on Bonneville Drive, then roll on back to the trailhead in City Creek. The road return is a bit under 3 miles, making a 10-mile loop.

Matt accelerates to the bottom of Dry Gulch, on his way to catching air (and crashing on the slippery hardpack during the landing) at the trail's exit. January 22, 2000.

 
East to West navigation from Dry Gulch!

The east-to-west navigation is much simpler. (You can divert onto the one-way 19th Avenue trail at mile 3.5, which I recommend. Even if you stay on the BST, you'll take the final mile of the descent into City Creek on 19th Avenue.) Begin by climbing Dry Gulch from the Avenues trailhead. 

Rob climbs the singletrack heading west past the U Med Center as we head for the climb up Dry Gulch on the BST. April 30, 2002.

Stay on the BST as you pass descending trails into Limekiln Gulch at mile 1.5 and Tomahawk at mile 2.3 from the bottom of Dry Gulch.

At mile 3.3, pass the entry to the Bobsled downhill trail.

Looking west toward the Oquirrh Mountains as the trail (far right) winds around a canyon during an April ride. The trail descending into the gulch is the Limekiln Gulch trail.

At mile 3.5, make your decision: Will you descend the 19th Avenue route or continue on the main BST? I recommend that only slower riders and beginners keep left at the trail fork and descend the BST. Everybody else should use the bikes-only 19th Avenue trail to reduce trail-user conflicts.

Matt heads uphill on the BST through fresh snow on frozen ground.

In the northern section of Salt Lake's Bonneville Shoreline, you're riding on alluvial deposits -- a mixture of rock, sand, and dirt washed down from the mountains into Lake Bonneville. Lake Bonneville existed from 1 million years ago until around the end of the Ice Age, 10 thousand years ago.

Mule's Ears bloom along the trail in the spring sunshine. Photo courtesy of Han Kim, May 2003.

Regardless of whether you took the BST or 19th Avenue, the routes will recombine near the 18th Avenue trailhead. You'll take 19th Avenue down into the bottom of City Creek Canyon to the Ensign Peak BST trailhead.

Descending the final (steep) stretch into City Creek Canyon. This final mile of trail is both the 19th Avenue trail and the westbound BST.

Bonneville Shoreline North Map

Getting there, City Creek trailhead:  From North Temple, head north uphill on B Street. At 11th Avenue, keep straight onto the one-way Bonneville Blvd (no passing: the left lane is for bikers and pedestrians). After 1/10th mile, turn left into the pavilion parking area. The uphill BST is just across the road from parking.
Ensign Peak/19th Avenue: Continue to drive downhill on Bonneville Blvd to the small parking area at the bottom of the canyon. If you go past the paved City Creek Canyon road, you've gone too far.

Terrace Hills: On 11th Avenue, turn uphill onto Terrace Hills Drive, then immediately turn left into the parking area. From the parking lot, ride 0.65 mile uphill on Terrace Hills to the trailhead, on your right at the dead-end. Climb another 0.3 to reach the BST.
Popperton Park: Go east on 11th to Popperton Park. Pedal east on the paved bike trail until it drops over the shoulder of the foothill into a wide gravel area. This is the Dry Gulch trailhead GPS N 40 46.658' W 111 50.225'. Turn left and begin climbing the Bonneville Shoreline Trail.

Red Butte: On Foothill Blvd, turn towards the mountains on Wakara Way. Just before the entry to Red Butte Gardens, turn right and park anywhere along the road. Find a "feeder trail" that climbs about 100 yards uphill to the BST.
This is the Place: From Foothill Blvd, turn east on Sunnyside Avenue. Park near This is the Place monument and find the trailhead on Sunnyside Avenue. Go northeast around the state park on a steep climb.

Photo courtesy of Han Kim, May 2003.

Riding resources:
GPS track file (right-click and select "Save Target as..."):
        GPX multi track area file
Topo map for printing:  View
Lodging, camping, shops:   Links to NE SLC resources

Copyright 2000 Mad Scientist Software Inc
updated 2021