What’s 28 miles long, 100 feet wide, and passes right through neighborhoods of ski bums, singletrack junkies, beavers, deer, moose, great blue herons, fox, and even bald eagles? The Historic Union Pacific Rail Trail State Park, of course. Park City’s first official recreational trail cuts right through town before heading through wetlands and farms, past the towns of Wanship and Coalville, and ending up at Echo Reservoir. The trail also connects some of Park City’s most popular singletrack trails and sees a ton of mountain bike and foot traffic in the summer, as well as fat bikers, snowshoers, and cross-country skiers during the winter.
What Makes It Great
As the name implies, the Rail Trail follows the path of the Union Pacific Railroad. The starting elevation in Park City is about 6800 feet. From there it drops gradually to Echo Reservoir, which sits at about 5500 feet. The gentle grade and winter grooming make the Rail Trail a favorite among cross-country skiers in the winter. Equipment is available to rent at White Pine Touring, which is about 100 feet from the Park City trailhead.
If you’re staying in Park City, the Rail Trail is the absolute definition of convenience. For folks staying in Salt Lake City, the trip is between 35 and 45 minutes, and absolutely worth it. The Rail Trail shows visitors a side of Park City that most tourists don’t get. There are no lines and no tickets to buy. The Rail Trail offers great views of wildlife as well as great views of Park City and a couple of neighboring towns. You may even catch a glimpse of some of the abundant area wildlife.
For history buffs, Park City’s Mountain Trails Foundation placed 16 historical markers along the trail. These markers highlight historical events that occurred on o along the trail, including the early Mormon settlers, the ill-fated Donner party, the trail’s intersection with the Lincoln Highway, and even an excavation site of Ice Age mammoths.
Who is Going to Love It
Outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs will find a day on the Rail Trail to be a refreshing change from the hustle and bustle of the everyday, and everyone will enjoy the quiet vacation away from their vacation. Beginning skiers will appreciate the groomed trail and gentle grade, while seasoned experts will enjoy all the mileage they can handle and a very solid cardio workout.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
There is plenty of free parking with convenient access to the Rail Trail. Officially, the trailhead is in Park City near White Pine Touring, but because it’s completely wide-open and crosses or runs along several roads, the trail can be accessed at many points along its length.