Historic Union Pacific Trail from Park City, Utah, to Echo Reservoir, Echo, Utah

Joyce on Union Pacific Trail

Joyce on Union Pacific Trail

A few years ago I rode part of this trail out of Park City, and my memory of it was reliable: a packed crushed gravel and dirt path that paralleled I-80 east out of Park City and crossed many private ranch property lines where cattle grazed. It was not particularly scenic because of the interstate (we could have seen the same scenery from our car windows), but it WAS “nature up close” and the trail has an interesting history in the western mountains in my home state of Utah, so it’s a good trail to be a Hall-of-Fame Rail-to-Trail. It only makes sense that I-80 would be built in the same mountain passes as the railroad was built, which was also the passage way for the Califorinia gold seekers, the Pony Express, the Mormon Pioneers, the famous Donner Pass party, and anybody else going west in the 1800s. That’s good history. Kamas and Coalville were once a lot more thriving than the empty intersections they are now, so it was sort of a ride into the past. Actually, one sign indicated that it was “main street of America” at one time.

It could have been a miserable ride if it had been hot, but the weather was good (we rode in the morning because of predictions of thunderstorms in the afternoon). We were the only ones on the trail except for two casual bikers we passed near Coalville. Actually, that’s not exactly true, because there were the I-80 construction workers on the trail where the trail was closed to through traffic (we didn’t know about this, thank goodness). Fortunately, a worker was near the gate telling us the trail was closed until Fall 2015 due to road construction, and after we told him our plight about being there to ride that trail only that day, he permitted us to walk our bikes past the machinery for about thirty yards, where the trail resumed as normal again. God was again on our side there.

Silver Creek with Mountains in the Distance

Silver Creek with
Mountains in the Distance

No mentionable amenities on this trail, except for the interesting historical and environmental markers to read along the way. At Coalville we rode off the trail to a nearby Subway to use the restroom and buy a Macademia nut cookie, a nice treat, and also to remove some of our layers of clothing, as we had anticipated a colder day. It wasn’t all that boring: we did pass a llama farm and rode along the Weber River and Silver Creek for a while, saw pretty Magpie birds landing and taking off near us, caught a glimpse of a fox scurrying across the trail up near the dam, and had the mountains on each side of us, so it was a pleasant enough ride. The homes and ranches we passed were earth tone colors and blended in nicely with the mountain side, so that was good. When we got to milepost 22 (out of 26 I think), the trail was less well kept up. Weeds were growing in the trail, and it was not nearly as semi-smooth as the more southwestern part near Park City, which makes sense considering that’s where more of the riders probably are located. At Echo Dam the trail got pretty bumpy, but the cool sight of the large reservoir off to the left made up for the jolts of the ride.

Trail End near Coalville

Trail End near Coalville

Ron and Ed did not ride with us on this trail. Ron stayed in Salt Lake to get some work done on our Subaru and Ed was our “guardian angel” since we could see his white van on the road or at rest stops on the trail as he patiently made his way to the end to meet us. And speaking of the ending, it was another abrupt ending at the beginning of a bridge, with a gate across and no indication that it was the end of the trail. It just ended before it went over the junction of Interstates 80 and 84, one going to Salt Lake down Parley’s Canyon and the other going to Ogden down Ogden (or is it Weber?) Canyon. One of the two, north of Salt Lake, and it was here that Brigham Young split the Mormons into two routes as they were about to enter the valley. I don’t remember the details, but the I-80 group is the one that made it to the famous “This is the Place” location in Emigration Canyon. Ron had intended to ride with us and had been the one to note that we should ride from Park City to Echo instead of the other way because of the elevation change. So the slightly downhill ride was his contribution to another good trail ride.




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