Bicycling Sugar House, Bottom to TopNov 06, 2015 12h24 ● By Bryan Scott
By James Luke
Currently some of the trail sections are hard to find without some urban sleuthing and a dose of adventurous spirit. At its best, though, when fully developed, Parley’s Trail will be an all-access bicycle path spanning east to west halfway across the Salt Lake Valley, connecting Tanner Park at the mouth of Parley’s Canyon with the Jordan River Parkway Trail on the city’s west side, and running through the heart of Sugar House along the way.
As it is now, Parley’s Trail is a very good start. The route lacks trail connections on the west for about a half-mile, between the Jordan River Trail and the TRAX line near 2100 South and 200 West, and is also incomplete on the east side above 1700 East. By mid-2016, though, Salt Lake City crews anticipate completion of the final eastern link of the bicycle path, from 1700 East on the edge of Sugar House Park all the way up to Tanner Park.
The current western extreme of an actual bicycle trail that is mostly separate from roads and traffic begins at the UTA S-Line Main Street stop, near 2250 South between State and Main Streets. The wide smooth path continues east alongside the rail line through South Salt Lake and up into Sugar House, making a pleasant trip of the two-mile crosstown journey.
A few of the surface street crossings along this stretch of Parley’s Trail require patience and caution. Traffic on State Street and 700 East, especially, stops only when the train is approaching, or if the red light at the crossing demands a stop for pedestrian or bicyclist crossing.
The portion of the nascent Parley’s Trail that goes alongside the S-line as it travels from Main St. up into Sugar House arrives eventually at Fairmont Park, where the rail line currently ends. The bicycle path continues east for another block or so, up Sugarmont Dr. to the intersection of Highland Drive.
Cyclists who find their way from the current end of the bike path, though, and continue on through the parking lots and shops, going northeast slightly and past Bed, Bath & Beyond and Petco, are on their way to discovering the beautiful continuation of the eastern stretch of Parley’s Trail.
Although the current break in the trail between Sugarmont Drive and its resumption beyond the parking lot of Petco makes it frustratingly hard at first to locate the continuation of the trail heading east, it is easy enough to carefully cross Highland Drive and improvise through parking lots to the next section of Parley’s Trail.
The part of the trail that is most nearly cloaked in complete invisibility for those unfamiliar with its route is the stretch where Parley’s Trail goes into the aptly named Hidden Hollow Natural Area (a.k.a. the dark woods beyond Petco). For those bold enough to continue east past the outsized bronze sugar beat thrusting up from the patch of grass just north of the pet store, the trail opens itself again, with two equal routes breaking off and looping separately around the small wooded grove. Trail users in the area may expect to see some truant students or other assorted scruffy-looking urban characters loitering along the park benches or stream banks, but the trail is safe as it continues east uphill toward Sugar House Park.
Continuing east through Hidden Hollow park leads to another large bronze sugar beet, and then to an urban canyon between office buildings. Decorated on one wall to recreate Southern Utah’s red rock canyons, the beautiful new under-the-road engineering solution that is called the Draw provides bicycle and pedestrian traffic access between the offices, shopping and residences of central Sugar House to the park, without having to navigate across the busy traffic of 1300 East.
Completed in 2012, the Draw goes beneath the road to connect the large green expanse of Sugar House Park east of 1300 East with the small creek side park of Hidden Hollow, a shady wooded area nestled between office towers, lofts and the established retail shops stretching west toward Highland Drive.
After the Draw, Parley’s Trail enters Sugar House Park. The path continues along the south side of the park, with a paved stretch of bicycle and pedestrian trail that is separate from the road where cars circle the interior of the park. The trail runs alongside the chain link fence overlooking I-80 traffic zipping along below. The dedicated bicycle trail currently ends at the southeastern edge of the park where it meets 1700 East.
Plans currently in the works for construction scheduled to be complete by 2016 call for a dedicated bicycle and pedestrian route, separate from city streets and traffic, to continue on up the hill to Tanner Park, near the mouth of Parley’s Canyon. When complete, the full length of Parley’s Trail will be about eight miles, and will represent the first east-west connecting trail added to the long stretches of the Jordan River Parkway Trail that runs north and south the length of the Salt Lake Valley and continues on down to Utah Lake and the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, which also runs north-south along the mountain bench east of the valley and beyond.