Ensign Peak rises above downtown Salt Lake City, making for a great quickie trail run during the chaos of OR. It’s perfect for runners who want a strenuous workout in the downtown area but don’t have much time. Ensign Peak is a quick out-and-back but it gets your heart rate up and offers great views of downtown Salt Lake.
Wear sunblock and bring plenty of water—especially if you hit it in the mid-day August sun. Keep your eyes and ears open for snakes on the trail—they love to bathe in the high-desert heat. The Ensign Peak trailhead is only an eight-minute drive from the Expo Center, making it the perfect escape from the expo floor. From here it’s a 1.2-mile round-trip.
However, it’s easy to add a little more mileage and get some extra endorphins flowing. Instead of going to the trailhead, you can park a few minutes away at the entrance of Memory Grove Park. Parking does get tight here at times, and can be a hassle for the people who live in the neighborhood, so another option, and probably the most neighborhood-friendly, is to park in the Avenues. While this may not be as convenient, parking at Memory Grove isn’t always available. Street parking in the Avenues is free, and some spots even offer great views of the capital building and downtown Salt Lake City.
From Memory Grove Park, head up the road through the middle of the park to 11th Avenue and the ponds. At 11th, cross the road and take the trail that immediately peels off to the left (there are some big boulders next to the trail right at the start). Follow the trail up for 25 yards, then take a right at the intersection. Follow this for about a mile.
At this point, you will be above and parallel to the road that travels up City Creek Canyon. Shortly after crossing over a spring that runs across the trail, there is a short incline. At the top of this climb take the trail to the left that heads off into the woods.
Here the trail switchbacks up through a small forest, then tops out on a drier hillside above some giant houses. Keep following the trail above the giant houses and you’ll hit some scrub oak, where the trail switchbacks again. At the top of these switchbacks a small trail will head off to your left towards a minor overlook. Turn right here instead for a mile or so of nice curvy singletrack that contours the hillside and winds in and out of scrub oak.
Eventually you hit a dirt road. You can go left here and find your way down to the neighborhoods above the Capital. But this route isn’t as fun as descending the trail you just came up. Turn around at the dirt road and enjoy the flowy run back to Memory Grove.