About this Itinerary
The Denver and Rio Grande Western Trail (DRGW) is a 25-mile paved rail-trail that runs north-south through the Wasatch Front, a large metropolitan area in north-central Utah’s Salt Lake Valley. Nestled between the Great Salt Lake and beautiful Wasatch Mountain Range, the DRGW traverses Davis and Weber counties and numerous cities between Roy and West Bountiful. Though the trail roughly parallels I-15 and is primarily an urban/suburban route within a developed corridor, the DRGW has a surprisingly rural feel with the occasional field, park and wooded patch, the beautiful Wasatch Mountains elevating the eastern horizon and Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area edging the southern segment of the trail.
The rail-trail lies on the bed of the former Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad, most recently used by the Union Pacific Railroad. The trail corridor is now owned by the Utah Transit Authority and, since 2003, the various cities it links have agreements with the rail agency to maintain the trail. The DRGW may not be appropriate for smaller children as there are frequent street crossings, some with gates, along the route; most of the crossings are in residential areas with a few busy exceptions. From the southern trailhead in West Bountiful, recreationalists can continue south on the Legacy Parkway Trail and the Jordan River Parkway Trail to extend the trip and travel the length of Salt Lake County.
The Denver and Rio Grande Western Trail lies between the larger cities of Ogden to the north and Salt Lake City to the south; whether you begin the DRGW from the southern or northern trail terminus will likely be determined by how you want to spend your time in the region and your mode of transportation. Air travelers can fly into the Salt Lake City International Airport. We offer an itinerary beginning and ending in Ogden and recommend riding the 50-mile round-trip trail in one day (overnight accommodations in West Bountiful and along the route require off-trail riding and the crossing of I-15).
The Ben Lomond Suites Historic Hotel, housed in an elegant 1920’s Italian Renaissance Revival-style building, is on the edge of the district on Washington Boulevard in Ogden. There are also several chain hotels in the Ogden area, including the Hilton Garden Inn and the Hampton Inn & Suites, just blocks north of the Ben Lomond.
On the northern half of the DRGW are several city parks that provide restroom facilities. Pack enough fluids and food for the entire ride and make sure to bring your tire repair kit; the thorny pods called goatheads are common on the trail and are at their peak in the fall. Bike rentals are available in Ogden at The Bike Shoppe.
If starting from the Ogden (north) end of the trail, prepare for your ride with coffee and baked goods from Grounds for Coffee or smoothies, lunch or a to-go sandwich from A Good Life Café. There are plenty of other options for dining on 25th Street, such as Rooster’s Brew Co., whose pub fare and locally-brewed ale might sound just right after your long ride.
The DRGW begins in Roy, approximately 5 miles southwest of downtown Ogden. A half-mile south from the trail's northern endpoint at Hinckley Drive, you'll find parking at the Utah Transit Authority’s FrontRunner Station, a block east of the trail at 4155 Sandridge Drive. A little farther south, you can also find parking in Heritage Park (1300 N. and 1000 W.) in Clinton.
As you begin, the state’s commuter rail line parallels the route to the east while neighborhoods line its western edge. Within the first 2 miles, you pass by a Roy’s city park, West Park, and cross two major streets. Set your mind to regular street crossings from here on out. At mile 4.3 in Clinton, the DRGW crosses W. 1800 N street where there is a convenience store and another city green space, Veterans Park. (Clinton has another park, Heritage Park, just off the trail at W. 1300 N.) On the northern edge of Clearfield, you pass by Steed Park and Steed Pond (mile 5.5), a community urban fishery home to bass, bluegill, catfish, trout and common carp.
From here, the trail cuts through a large swathe of industrial buildings, parallels state highway 193 briefly as well as the rail tracks once again. Be prepared for a busy street crossing at W. Antelope Drive (mile 8.3) before entering a quieter residential section. In the midst of all this development, nearly a mile of agricultural land graces the eastern edge of the trail after crossing N. 2200 W. and also marks your arrival to Layton(mile 8.9). At mile 10 is another busy intersection, take caution as you cross W. Hill Field Road.
Most of the trail in Layton is surrounded by a mixture of agricultural fields, homes and commercial property. When enjoying views of the spectacular Wasatch Range, consider that the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad was at one time the epitome of mountain railroading; it operated the highest mainline rail in the U.S. as it traveled through mountain passes from Colorado to Utah. “Through the Rockies, not around them,” was at one time the rail’s motto. Not much in the way of rugged mountain passes to contend with on this bike route, but do continue to be mindful of the ever-present car traffic.
The trail passes into Kaysville at mile 12 and continues through its suburban landscape to join with Farmington’s at mile 16. As the trail crosses Park Lane and W. Clark Lane in Farmington, a 0.6-mile detour east will bring you to several eateries such as chain restaurants The Habit Burger Grill and Café Zupas (take Park Lane to Station Parkway). Beyond this point, there will not be many easily accessible places to eat, so fill up here.
Back on the trail, more and more open space surrounds the route as you near the eastern edges of Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area. Millions of birds and more than 200 species of water birds, songbirds and raptors visit this wetland ecosystem each year. Birders and nature lovers may want to take the 1.5-mile detour to the Great Salt Lake Nature Center at Farmington Bay or ride the dike and roads in the management area. Head west on W. Glovers Lane. Stay on this road to the nature center or head south on 1325 W. till you reach Dike Road from which point you can head either east or west (the entire loop is more than 7 miles).
On the DRGW once again, the trail meets up with the Legacy Parkway Trail for 1.2 miles before crossing Legacy Parkway/SR 67 and reaching Birnam Woods Trailhead and parking area (N. 830 W. in Centerville). At the trailhead, the Legacy Parkway Trail veers west, paralleling SR 67 to the Legacy Nature Preserve and Jordan River Parkway Trail.
From the Birnam Woods Trailhead, the DRGW carries on south for another 1.6 miles to pass through Lakeside Golf Course and end in WestBountiful. The trail’s terminus is in a residential section of WestBountiful, a rural community whose restaurants may be difficult to reach from the DRGW (I-15/Veterans Memorial Highway lies between the trail and downtown). As such, you may wish to turn around and head north back to Ogden once you’ve rested up at the Birnam Woods Trailhead, rather than continuing south.
Situated at the foothills of the Wasatch Range, Ogden offers recreationalists plenty of opportunity for year-round outdoor play, including skiing, rafting, fishing and hiking. It may be Ogden’s “mountain to metro personality,” however—with venues for art, entertainment and dining in a laid-back atmosphere—that keeps visitors coming back.
Indeed, this area is no stranger to travelers, trade or commerce. Perhaps as early as 400 AD, this region was home to the Fremont people followed by the Northern Shoshone and Goshute tribes. Ogden became an incorporated city and Mormon settlement by the mid-19th century and welcomed the tracks of the First Transcontinental Railroad in 1869. Ogden would also become a busy junction for rail travel in the intermountain West and those interested in rail history can learn more about this era at the Utah State Railroad Museum in Union Station and Ogden’s 25th Street Historic District; there are actually four museums, two galleries and a restaurant at this historical train station.
While in Ogden, you might as well stay close to this district as there is plenty of colorful dirt to kick up from the street’s notorious early rail and frontier-days past (think gambling, brothels and political scandals); this self-guided walking tour will inform you about the district’s most iconic structures. Alternatively, simply enjoy the many shops, galleries and eateries of Ogden’s present-day 25th Street district.