The Bonneville Shoreline trail is just that—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
In Salt Lake City, there are two options for the Bonneville Shoreline trail: west and east. To the west, the trail zig-zags along the foothills of Ensign Peak on its way to Farmington. We recommend starting at the City Creek Canyon trail, where a marker outlines the details of the route west. (Disregard the purple lines on the Bonneville topo map—they’re future or proposed additions, but haven’t yet been created.)
The western section of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail stretches just over 20 miles, from City Creek to Farmington. This includes a 6-mile paved section that follows Bountiful Boulevard—a relatively quiet, residential two-lane that zig-zags along the edge of the foothills. On busy days you’ll see quite a bit of foot traffic and a few mountain bikers, but the lack of vegetation means great visibility and very few blind corners.
Be sure to carry plenty of water—the entire trail is exposed, level, and consists mainly of sand or loose rock. In the summer, keep an eye (and ear) out for rattlesnakes—they aren’t often in the trail, but like the brush and snakeweed along the edges. In late fall you can find them sunning themselves on the trail.
Who is Going to Love It
The trail is a runner’s dream. It’s smooth and well maintained with very few sections that could be qualified as “rocky.” The climbs and descents are mostly pretty gentle, so it’s easy to maintain your cadence.
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.