Welcome to the dreariest point of the year in Salt Lake: As any outdoor-loving local knows, January and February are tough months if you can’t easily slip away to play in the mountains. Which means that generally Monday through Friday, we’re counting down the hours until we can go back up one of the canyons and restore a shred of sanity on the slopes.
But when winter doldrums are at their worst and you desperately need a top-off of vitamin D, don't despair: There are a few key tricks to keep up your sleeve. We assembled an in-town list of destinations close enough that you can squeeze in a visit before or after work, or even during your lunch hour. So pack some mud-friendly shoes and get ready for these easy outdoor workouts in Salt Lake City.
This stunning old park sits right between Sugarhouse and downtown. And it just happens to have a lovely wood-chipped pathway for running and walking around the circumference of the park. It’s the perfect way to log some people-watching and get a little cardio and fresh air while you’re at it. The trail around the park is almost exactly 1.5 miles, with drinking fountains at multiple points, making it easy to crank out some mid-week mileage.
The park stays lively year-round, too: Along the way you’ll meet aviary birds, picnicking families, playing kids, and happy dogs. If you need a pick-me-up after (or before) your workout, Beans and Brews sits on the park’s northwest corner. And if you feel like undoing all your calorie-burning with a nice cheesy meal at the Park Café diner on the park’s south side, we wouldn’t hold it against you.
Red Butte Gardens
Red Butte is a gem of Salt Lake, perched in the foothills above the valley haze. The botanical gardens themselves require a small fee for entry (and the fee is more than worth it—trust us), but you can also set out on the Bonneville Shoreline and explore the gardens’ periphery.
Within the gardens, you’ll find exquisitely landscaped walking paths that are kept beautiful year-round. Pause for a quiet moment by Red Butte creek, and geek out on the interpretive signs to learn a thing or two about our local wildlife.
Hands-down one of the prettiest places in Salt Lake, Sugarhouse Park is easily accessible from just about anywhere. Right off the I-80 freeway, this park boasts a walking trail around its perimeter, as well as a lovely duck pond and stunning vistas of our mountain skyline.
You can walk or run around the park and log just under two miles for each loop. As a fun bonus, there are a couple of hilly descents and climbs on each loop, so you’ll burn plenty of calories and earn lunch points. (The center of Sugarhouse, just two blocks away, is a mecca for quick and tasty meals.)
Easily accessible for anyone coming from Cottonwood Heights or Sandy, the Quarry Trail is a godsend. This gorgeous tucked-away trailparallels the Little Cottonwood Canyon stream for about three and a half miles up the canyon. It’s excellent for running or walking even when it’s snow-packed.
The gate to the trailhead parking lot closes for the winter, but it’s a problem you can easily sidestep by parking along the road outside the gate. Then start tromping up the obvious trail. In the colder months, you’ll have it practically to yourself, save for a few intrepid snow-bikers.
City Creek Canyon
Every weekday during the lunch hour, bleary-eyed downtown office workers step onto the peaceful pathways of along the City Creek canyon stream . It’s a sight to behold, with folks in suits and dress shoes walking up the canyon to take some fresh air. They look noticeably more relaxed on the walk back down.
If you work downtown, just walk through Memory Grove and start up-canyon. Or for more of a huff n’puff, walk straight up State Street to the Capitol building, then veer right into City Creek canyon. If you want to sneak into full trail-running attire, you can stay on a dirt trail for most of the length of the canyon if you find the path that parallels the stream.
Lower Olympus Trail
For denizens of Holladay, Murray, and Millcreek, a quick drive to the Mt. Olympus trailhead yields an amazing cardio workout packed into every mile. As one of the steepest trails in the Wasatch, Olympus lives up to its legendary name. Even power-walking just a mile or two up the trail will perch you at a lofty elevation with sweeping city views.
As a bonus, this south face of the mountain tends to melt out quickly after a storm, so even if you have to contend with a little mud, things aren’t usually fully snowpacked or icy.
Corner Canyon Trail
While it’s popular with mountain bikers in the warmer months, the Corner Canyon trail system in Draper quiets down mid-winter. This makes it far more accommodating for walkers and runners who don’t want to contend with bikes bombing down the trail.
This extensive network of hilly trails is a refreshing way to stretch your legs right before or after work. Trust us: The lower slopes of Lone Peak never have an ugly day.