City Creek Canyon, with the Utah State Capitol beyond it — Photo courtesy of Jennifer Boren
There are many great bike trails, both for road and mountain biking, in and around Salt Lake City. One very surprisingly convenient to city residents is found right at the heart of the city's origins.
Just a few blocks away from the famed Temple Square is the beginning of beautiful Memory Grove Park (at State Street and 2nd Avenue), with its many monuments and handsome structures honoring veterans; the park meanders through City Creek Canyon for just over a mile.
Literally within steps (one trail leads you there) of the Utah State Capitol, it's a pristine area providing instant respite from busy life. Whether you're a local or passing through, it is definitely worth coming to, if exercise is on your mind and bike is on your vehicle. Parking is a little tricky, so look for nearby side streets or the parking structure at City Creek mall.
Be sure to choose an odd-numbered day, when all roads through the park and subsequent canyon are open to bicyclists and not public automobiles. On even-numbered days, it is the opposite - cars allowed, no bikes. This schedule starts each year on the last Monday of May and continues through the end of September. After the last weekend in September, ride away: bikes are allowed every day. But be aware that bikes are not allowed on the trail on holidays at any time.
Service vehicles are always allowed, so keep an eye out. Many walkers and runners use the path, too, so the 15 mph speed limit is not only encouraged, but enforced. The trail is open 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Memory Grove Park, Salt Lake City — Photo courtesy of Jennifer Boren
Memory Grove Park, dedicated in 1920, is a hidden gem, complete with a large grassy area and man-made lake; it makes a great spot for families or frisbee games. The path is a paved road that takes you past beautiful monuments, a meditation chapel and a wedding reception center.
War memorials honor fallen veterans as far back as World War I and World War II and as recently as the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. You'll even pass by a Liberty Bell replica. Beyond this area is an off-leash dog trail, in case you brought your furry friend out with you for some exercise. He'll love this part. Waste bags can be found frequently in case your pooch has gotta go.
Cyclists on City Creek Canyon Road — Photo courtesy of Jennifer Boren
It is here that Memory Grove Park ends and the more rustic and rural part starts. The road now becomes Bonneville Boulevard. There are other off-shoot dirt trails, such as the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, but if you want to stick with the paved road, head down City Creek Canyon road (right where the one-way road loops and heads back towards the city).
Here you will come to a ranger-like station with restrooms and information for your journey up the canyon. There is quite a bit of historical significance surrounding City Creek. Back in the 1800s, it was the city's main water supply for the early Mormon pioneers. Later, the water became too polluted to use, but in the early '50s, a water treatment plant was built and North Salt Lake residents benefit again from this water supply.
Year-round, thanks to natural springs and snow run-off, the Canyon collects water from 19 square miles, feeding the 14.5-mile long creek. Now considered a nature preserve, City Creek Canyon has been a protected watershed since the city's beginnings, over 150 years ago. What a pleasure it is to bike along this road and hear its running waters.
City Creek, along City Creek Canyon Road — Photo courtesy of Jennifer Boren
There are 30 designated picnic areas along the road, some with water fountains, which is really nice. If you didn't pack a sandwich, consider heading back to the city and catching some more history and a bite to eat. Very close by, near Temple Square (which is also worth seeing), is the famed Beehive House, former home of city founder Brigham Young. And next to it is the the Lion House Pantry, another home of Young's, now a restaurant serving up good home cooking.
Utah State Capitol — Photo courtesy of Jennifer Boren
At the top of State Street is the Utah State Capitol, open for tours Monday through Friday. The last one leaves at 4 p.m. But you're welcome to tour through yourself during open hours, till 8 p.m. on weekdays and 6 p.m. on the weekends.
Just across the street is the former City Hall, now known as Council Hall. It has a great bookstore/gift shop with a plethora of free brochures on things to do in the city and surrounding areas. And on the west side of the Capitol, you'll find the Pioneer Memorial Museum, with more great history.
But if you're one of those who is "Forever 21," follow the City Creek right to the mall who was named after it, and where the creek continues to run right through it. This shopping center is two stories tall - with pedestrian walkways over the street below - covers several city blocks and includes a beautiful open-air fountain area. You can sit on a bench and tell someone nearby you know where that creek leads.