Bike, hike and trot to destination; effort on to map Utah's urban area trails

Published: Sunday, July 8 2012 5:01 p.m. MDT

Chris Brady hikes with his son Desmond Brady on his back in Mueller Park in Bountiful on Monday, July 2, 2012.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

FARMINGTON — There's a statewide push to link hundreds of miles of trails for use by pedestrians, equestrians, biking enthusiasts and off-road vehicle riders.

In particular, many of the trails along the Wasatch Front are already seamless and don't stop at the geographical borders of individual counties. And users need an equally seamless way to access that information, said Scott Hess, a Davis County planner who runs the area's trail committee.

"That is one of my visions and goals to see this trails information developed," Hess said.

In Davis County alone, there are more than 100 miles of trails and the area boasts one of the state's most extensive network of trails that traverse from west to east, from the bottom to the top of mountain ranges, Hess said.

"I don't think people realize that we have these kind of trails."

Davis County has been trying to get the word out. A website established in 2010 and updated last year takes advantage of GIS technology and Esri software to give trail users a spatial reference for the distance and topography of a particular trail. In addition, the downloadable files give details on distance, difficulty of terrain, the required time investment for a specific venture and access points on trailhead locations.

Such information is a significant improvement over a printed map that used to be available at Davis County offices.

"It's pretty new; it provides a better detail for Davis County residents than we've ever had," Hess said.

Some trails take visitors on winding, strenuous mountain hikes amid waterfalls and streams. Many of them are just east of U.S. 89, or are in the middle of suburban areas like Layton and a stone's throw from neighborhoods.

The Kays Creek Parkway, for example, is 2.8 miles and suitable for pedestrians and bicyclists. Details are given for trailhead access — such as the Adam J. Welker Trailhead parking lot at 2125 E. 2700 North.

Others such as the D and RGW Rail Trail are integrated among the counties already — Hess said trail users can pick up it near the Ogden-Hinckley Airport in Weber County and swing west through Davis County — from Clinton to West Bountiful.

"It is both a paved and unpaved flat 22 miles consisting of north and south lanes of travel," reads the description. "Your adventure will be filled with a plethora of urban scenery which will fill you with delight."

Such extensive north-south routes like the rail trail and Legacy Parkway Trail are fast becoming favorites among fitness-savvy users who are fusing exercise with their commute, Hess said.

"It is amazing to see commuters using the Legacy trail as an option — it's a huge resource," Hess said. "It is why we need to be considering our bicycle infrastructure."

Evan Curtis, a planning project manager with the Governor's Office of Planning and Budget, said the goal is to take individual county efforts such as Davis County's and provide a one-stop resource for residents to learn where trails connect and acceptable uses.

"As planners, we want to make that information available in a way that does not stop at jurisdictional boundaries," Curtis said.

Although the project is in its infancy and subject to the whims of government dollars coming together, Curtis said the state has been aggressive in its pursuit of mapping technology to the benefit of residents.

"We're quite lucky in this state compared to some of the others," he said. "It is really quite impressive what you can do with technology these days, which used to be something strictly for technocrats and planners and now is in the realm of the public."

E-mail: amyjoi@desnews.com Twitter: amyjoi16

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