If you’re staying in downtown Salt Lake City, it’s going to be hard to find a more accessible ride/run in town than the City Creek Up, Out, and Back. City Creek will get your heart rate up for a serious workout in a hurry.
What Makes It Great
If you’re looking for a very serious workout that’s conveniently located in downtown Salt Lake City, nothing compares to the City Creek Up. Out, and Back.From the entrance to Memory Grove follow the road up the middle of the park (no cars allowed) until you hit 11th Avenue (the only road you will cross, you can recognize it because there are two ponds, one below and one above the road).
At 11th, veer right on the road, then left next to the top pond. A trail heads north from the east side of the pond. Follow it uphill, winding through the woods for a mile or two. This is a climb of 500' or so. At the top, you will be in an open field with hills rising behind it. You may notice a trail heading to a trailhead parking lot and some houses on your right. Ignore intersecting trails and follow the trail you are on as it heads across the field, makes a hairpin switch back to the right and continues to contour up and around the hillside. When you hit another intersection at a flat spot, take a left. You will see in front of you a good sized hill, with a shoulder on the left that drops down to your level (and, further to the left, City Creek canyon dropping below you).
Head for this left shoulder. Take a left on the faint trail that heads straight up the shoulder. This is a strenuous climb for most people, and it sees more walking than running. But the good news is that it is really not that long...Once on top, follow the trail across the flat ridge you are on. (You will see the central Wasatch to your right, across the Salt Lake valley, and a scenic group of 8k-9k' peaks at the head of City Creek canyon straight ahead and to slightly left.) The trail eventually dips, and you will have some scrub oak on either side. Eventually, you face another big climb if you want to stay on the ridge.
You can go up and over this to the 5-Way, but the rock is loose descending the other side, so I prefer to take the smaller trail that dips to your left, just as the climb look imminent. If you go left, you will dip into some woods, then bend back right up to the 5-Way. From the 5-Way, take a hard left onto the trail that diagonals up the hillside. After this short but painful climb you will follow the trail on the ridge again for a mile or less. After a small descent on the ridge the trail forks. The left fork would take you all the way out the ridge to the wooded mountain off in the distance ahead of you (this is the course for the Wasatch Steeplechase, if you ever find yourself in SLC in mid-June and are looking for a great 17 mile trail run race with about 4k' of climbing). Do not take the left fork, take the right instead.
On the right fork (while still more or less on the ridge) you will see another trail going right in about 50 yards. Follow this little trail down a minor subridge to the Bonneville Shoreline trail. Take a right on the shoreline and enjoy some smooth single track back to the 5-Way. At the 5-Way, go left down the wider trail. In about 0.5 miles you will hit a minor intersection. The trail straight ahead drops down a small gully to a neighborhood, but you want to take the hard right back onto some twisty singletrack that winds through scrub oak.This singletrack will hit a few minor intersections, but if you stay on the main trail you will eventually wind your way back to the Flat Spot. From there, follow the trail you came up to start the run back down to the ponds at 11th Avenue, then follow the road down into Memory Grove.
Who is Going to Love It
City Creek Canyon is a favorite of folks who need a workout but don’t have a lot of time.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Free Parking is available at the main gate to Memory Grove or in the Avenues above Memory Grove. While City Creek doesn’t have official hours, it’s best enjoyed during the day.