Despite its reputation as a snow-sports mecca, Salt Lake City is also blessed with amazing trail-running opportunities for every season and every enthusiast. The trick is knowing where to go when the valley is in the grips of chilly weather. Of course, you might have to run at the gym the day after one of our legendary two-foot storms, but the trails will be packed out soon enough. Thanks to snowshoers and hikers, some of the valley’s best trails are usually ready to run just a couple days after a storm.
There are a few things to keep in mind. Until the snow has been completely beaten into submission, it’s a good idea to wear waterproof trail runners. Also, it’s always a good idea to carry Yaktrax or Kahtoola NANOspikes with you on any winter run, especially on steeper or less-traveled terrain. Lastly: always, always, always wear sunscreen, even if it’s overcast.
Pipeline is awesome. It’s cut into the side of Mill Creek Canyon along the path of an old water pipe, so it stays relatively flat from the Burch Hollow Trailhead all the way to The Point (5.7 miles one-way). We recommend running this section as an out-and-back starting at Burch Hollow. If you start at Burch Hollow, you have three out-and-back options: Church Fork (3.2 miles round-trip), Rattlesnake Gulch (7.6 miles round trip), or the Point (11.4 miles round trip). There are a couple of quick hills, but nothing very steep. Worst case: you can walk them quickly, and there probably won’t be anyone there to witness it.
Remember—use of Mill Creek Canyon is $3 per car, so cram everyone into one car and keep a little cash handy.
This particular section of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail offers gentle, rolling hills (with the occasional steep, punchy climb thrown in) and incredible, wide-open views of the whole Salt Lake Valley. This is some of the best scenery in the valley, and it’s a night-and-day difference from the steep, rocky, rugged views that you’ll enjoy in the Cottonwoods.
The trails here are excellent, too. The singletrack is very narrow—it will keep you on your toes. And thanks to its close proximity to downtown, the Shoreline sees a lot of traffic, so the snow is usually packed out in just a couple days.
The loop is about 6 miles. If you go clockwise, you’ll go up Terrace Hills (a steep .65-mile grind on pavement). You can either start your run with this climb by parking at the park at the bottom of Terrace Hills, or finish with it by parking at the cul-de-sac at the top. Either way, it’s steep. The good news, however, is that the road is nice and wide with a lane just for runners and bikers, and it’s short enough that it will be behind you in 5 or 10 minutes. Then comes the fun part—5 miles of beautiful, rolling singletrack.
Pace yourself. The Lake Blanche Trail is only 5.6 miles round-trip, but it climbs over 2,600 vertical feet and it doesn’t give you many breaks along the way. Some sections are very steep, as well. You’ll definitely need Yaktrax or NANOspikes during the winter months, since some of the steeper sections get icy.
The payoff is awesome, however. Once you reach the lake, the views are gorgeous. To the south, you have an incredible view of Sundial Peak (10,320’), along with Lake Lillian and Lake Florence to the south and east. The surrounding cirque includes Monte Cristo (11,132’), Dromedary Peak (11,107’) and Sunrise Peak (11,275’). Catch your breath, take it all in, grab a snack, and pray to the god of shin-splints for an easy descent.