The Bonneville Shoreline trail is actually the ancient shoreline of Lake Bonneville. The trail follows the Bonneville Bench at about 5,100 feet. This shoreline marks the highest level attained by the Ice Age (Pleistocene Era) lake approximately 15,500 years ago. Although it follows the shoreline of the lake, the trail is not level today. It varies by about 200 feet in elevation due to the removal of the weight of the lake, called "isostatic crustal rebound" by geologists. The trail ranges for 280 miles along the mountain fronts from Idaho to Provo, Utah, and it’s a perfect place to get away from it all in just a few minutes.
What Makes It Great
From downtown Salt Lake City, you have two options as you begin you Bonneville Shoreline Trail run—east or west. The east trail starts at the City Creek Canyon trail and winds around to Parley’s Canyon and beyond to Draper. There are a large number of access points for this stretch of trail, shown on the Bonneville topo map. Local favorites are the Jewish Community Center, Red Butte Garden, and the Hogle Zoo. Red Butte Garden has water available, and there’s a fountain and bathrooms at the City Creek trailhead.
One unique feature of the east trail is the number of off-shoot trails that you can take. We recommend studying the topo map carefully before you take off and knowing where your path crosses another one. It is hard to get lost—the trails are all well-exposed, and the mountain peaks stay to your north and east, while the city stays to the west and south of you. Although there are trees scattered here and there, most foliage is limited to smaller desert species, so visibility is generally excellent.
Be sure to carry plenty of water—the trail is level and sandy, with shade available only on the connector trails from the parking areas. Rattlesnakes are fond of the Shoreline trail. They usually stay in the bushes in summer, but can be found sunning on the trail in fall. Be sure to stow and lock your valuables—the parking areas aren’t patrolled or monitored.
For a bite to eat after your run, check out Ruth’s Diner. Ruth’s is famous for their mile-high biscuits, huge burgers, and home-cooked dinners. They have a wide selection of wines, beers, and specialty cocktails, too. Just follow 800 south towards the mountains, and keep an eye out to your right – Ruth’s is 2 miles up from the zoo.
Who is Going to Love It
The Bonneville Shoreline Trail is loved by hikers, mountain bikers, trail runners, and dog-walkers. Its close proximity to downtown makes it a favorite for folks who want to get out for a quick workout.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Official trailheads, of which there are roughly 20, make it easy to break the trail up into smaller out-and-backs, as well. With so many trailheads to choose from and so many hikers, runners, bikers, and dog-walkers coming and going, parking shouldn’t ever be a problem, even during the peak seasons. There are no fees and no permits required to run on the shoreline, and it’s always open—day or night—anytime of the year.