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The Historic Union Pacific Rail Trail State Park is a 28-mile, high-elevation trail that follows Interstate 80, from the charming streets of Park City through the smaller communities of Wanship and Coalville to Echo Reservoir. From a starting elevation of approximately 6,800 feet in Park City, you can cruise down the gentle 2% grade along Silver Creek for 14 miles through a narrow volcanic canyon. As the scenery transitions to wetlands and farms near Wanship and Silver Creek Canyon, a menagerie of wildlife—including fox, bald eagles, herons, moose, deer and beaver—often appears near the trail. The trail surface is primarily gravel, except for 3 miles from Park City north and a 0.5-mile section in Wanship. These asphalt sections are suitable for wheelchairs and in-line skaters.
After passing through the outskirts of Coalville, visitors will emerge at the bottom of Echo Reservoir, a Summit County water source and hotspot for recreational boating and fishing. Not only does the Historic Union Pacific Rail Trail State Park showcase the environmental diversity of this area, it helps celebrate the region's rich history.
The rail-trail follows the route of a historical railroad line that transported coal and silver ore during the region's mining heyday in the 1860s. To help commemorate this heritage, Summit County's Restaurant Tax Grant Committee provided the Mountain Trails Foundation with funds to place 16 plaques along the trail. These markers highlight the early Mormon settlers and ill-fated Donner family wagon train, the trail's intersection with the once-influential Lincoln Highway and the excavation site of Ice Age mammoths, among other historical sites and events.
The pathway may be relatively new, yet recreation has been the name of the game in Park City for decades, and the Historic Union Pacific Rail Trail serves as a connector to several hundred miles of technical mountain bike trails, single-track paths requiring more skill that zigzag throughout the area.
Parking and access is available in Park City; along Silver Creek Drive (Exit 2 East off US 40); in Wanship; in Coalville and at Echo Reservoir.
This trail is not asphalt and concrete it is mostly gravel with some asphalt. It is harder to do gravel and you need a different bike. So I think the description that you see needs to be fixed.
I rode this trail from the Wanship parking lot to Main Street Park City and back--I avoided starting at Echo based on some of the reviews I read on this site about the soft state of the trail by the reservoir. Based on my trip, I'd say at least 75% of the trail was dirt and a bit bumpy, and the last 25% nearest Park City is paved. If you are wanting a paved route I believe you'd need to start where the trail crosses 248, or if you just want only a little bit of dirt trail you could start at the Promentory/Star Pointe trailhead. I rode a hybrid bike, and although I felt I did fine there were definitely a couple patches where the trail was pretty bumpy or gravely or had gopher holes. That said I wasn't anticipating a super groomed trail so it was pretty much what I expected. Scenery is fantastic... some farm land and river life on the front end (beavers, deer, lots of birds), open West landscape in the middle, and Park City on the end. If you are going to do a to-and-back I'd definitely recommend doing it the way I did going uphill for the first leg and downhill on the second leg (especially if it's hot).
Although the trail goes through some really beautiful countryside, it is extremely rough to ride, runs almost continuously along Interstate 80, and has very little shade. We rode only about 10 miles, from Coalville towards Park City, then had to turn around because the bumpiness was wearing us out! We ride hybrid bikes, with front suspension, but it was still very, very jarring.
This is one of my favorite gravel rides. The downhill to Echo is fun, the return is a grind. Well worth the trip!
I rode this trail on Sunday April 10 and absolutely loved it. I round tripped the whole route, from Echo to Park City and back...a total of 52 miles. Here's what you need to know if you're going to ride it.
1. It's mostly unpaved and not in that nice, crushed limestone, Katy Trail sort of way. It's more like a ranch or a fire road along most of its length. Generally speaking, the 13 miles from Park City to Wanship are much smoother than the 13 from Wanship to Echo. The worst stretch is the 4 miles from Echo to Coaldale. If you eliminate that little bit, it's a pretty decent ride. This isn't suburbia. It's a rural trail through the American West.
2. There are some soft spots. Again, most of these are in the Echo-Coaldale section of the trail. On my return, it started raining pretty hard and it turned into a quagmire real fast. I rode on 26" x 2.75" Dirt Wizard tires and I'm glad I did. I think this route is much more enjoyable if you're on a bike that can handle the terrain easily. Everybody's different, but I would not attempt the full route without at least 2" of tire width under me. From Park City to Wanship, a hybrid or gravel grinder will probably work just fine for most folks.
3. A 2% grade sounds like no big deal but over many miles it slows you down and wears you down. I never used the big rings on my cassette, but it was a lot more work going uphill to Park City than it was going back to Echo. I rode back almost twice as fast as I rode out. If you're going to roundtrip this, it's probably best to ride uphill first if your circumstances allow.
4. It parallels a freeway for almost the entire distance. It's a rural freeway through the mountains and sagebrush flats, not an urban freeway. For much of the route, it's well above you so it's not as if you're riding with traffic. This is common in this part of the world. The bike routes over Vail Pass and through Glenwood Canyon in Colorado also parallel freeways. Yes, there's a little bit of noise but don't let that discourage you. The views are incredible along most of the route.
If you live in a city or the suburbs like most Americans do these days, you're probably used to well manicured trails with themed signage, benches, beautiful trailheads, etc. This is not that. If you come expecting that, you're likely to leave disappointed. If, on the other hand, you come expecting to be wowed by the awesome, simple beauty of the American West, it will be a day well spent. I will be back. Five stars.
It was interesting to know that we were riding on or near where the railroad really went to take people out west. We have been travelling from west to east and have been very interested in the pioneer trails and railroad ways.
We entered the trail at Wanship and headed E. Very good signage to get us to the parking area. The trail was very rough... it appeared that it had recently been graded so it was gravely and mushy in spots. The trail runs along Interstate 80 which was a little obnoxious, but the signs along the way were very interesting.The scenery and pastures, streams and small communities were great!
It was very exciting to us to know we were travelling the same route as so many who came before us, heading to the West to find gold,or ???
Biked this trail mid August 2012. There a number of soft spots which our hybrid bike tires did not like. Due to reading about puncture vines I was "instructed" not to run over any sort of grass. There was LOTS of "grass" stuff so I spent the entire time dodging patches of green stuff. We did not get any flats and didn't see anything that would contain thorns. I would not recommend this trail for hybrids. It was OK. A bit boring as far as scenery-some parts were nice. We were told there was one place to eat, I think in Wanship. It was closed down and so you better take your lunch with you. The trail is wanting for a lot of TLC. Maintenance is lacking.
I rode the entire trail from top to bottom on the 4th of july, 2012, on my '06 ICE QNT tricycle. The 1st 4 miles or so was paved, then it turned into well packed earth/gravel. The crazy part is that I was running 1.35", 95psi marathon slick tires in front!, so it was a bit bumpy but not that bad really as long as I didn't go faster than about 12 mph. It was a test for me to see if my tricycle could handle dirt roads, and since I have good rear suspension it was really quite doable. With fatter, low pressure tires I'll bet I could even have comfortably gone 4-5 mph faster. So, I just went slow and REALLY enjoyed the beauty of the area, with a highlight being when I took a very quick swim in the cold river (temp. was low 40's!). It was freezing but very refreshing, with large, hot rip-rap rocks to dry off on. I was lying there drying off and blissing-out in the hot sun when something caught my eye. I looked over less than 20' to the right to see a big beaver climb up on to the rocks, but as soon as he saw me he jumped back into the water. There's only one good place to swim w/o trespassing, (It's South of Wanship, you can't miss it...the river is deep and wide and passes right next to the path, with no fence.) so don't miss it thinking there'll be another one.
The only shade is under the hwy. overpasses and a few trees so take advantage of them when you get to them (use lots of sun screen due to the elevation). I had to open/close quite a few gates, but just saw it as a chance to rest a bit. I took 3L of ice cold water and drank all but a few ozs. of it during my 5 hr trip. (3 hrs. of triking and 2hrs of r&r). There are short sections of pavement through the little towns, and the quality of the dirt remains about the same till you get to the end by Echo res., where it deteriorates to being quite rough at the end.
Be aware that there is NO parking lot at the very south end, it just ends abruptly with a gate near the edge of a hwy, so my wife had to park in a turn-out a few hundred yards down the hwy so we could load the trike.
I stopped and read every interpretative sign (there were a lot) and the history of the area is quite interesting. I encountered NO "puncture vine" (aka "goat-heads") and my ride was flat-free. I encountered only 6 other cyclists the entire day, but did stop to talk to some interesting local sheep ranchers who shared interesting info about the area. Right at the point where the path goes between the freeways expect a REALLY FUN 7+ mile downhill where you don't have to pedal for about half an hour! I wore my altimeter watch and it was fun to see it dropping steadily all day long.
This trail is great, and i'd do it again, but i only reccd. it highly for people who like a bit more challenge/adventure in their rides.
This trail is pleasant as far as aesthetics go. However, I would caution that this may not be the best trail for cycling. The trail is laden with puncture vine. We had four flat tires over the ride, and not enough tubes. Also, I would recommend starting in Park City rather than Echo, as there will be less uphill riding.
This trail is currently closed where it crosses under I-80 near Kimball Junction due to construction work on the I 80 bridge. So you can only ride about 7 miles out from Park City before you must turn back. It is anticipated that it wil reopen somtime late fall 2011
My suggestion is that you drive to Coalville and ride to Park City in the morning when the wind is nil.... My favorite cafe in Park City is just about a half block West of the end of the trail. Windy Ridge Cafe has a great outside flowered patio and visible bike racks off the patio... Great food ant reasonable prices... Then enjoy the flat to downhill ride all the way back to Coalville...... :) Lots of wild trout in the Weber River close to Coalville and Wanship and the small stream, just before you reach Park City... Enjoy!... :)
The second mile of asphalt surface out of Park City is in poor condition. It appears that it may be resurfaced soon. New Asphalt for the third mile ending at Hwy 248. The dirt portion of the trail is to soft to pedal a 3 wheeler. It would help if the maintenance Personnel would not always drive in the same tracks. They could pack a 36 “ wide trail with out more expense by just driving on the soft edge of their previous track.
Noel Keller 6 May 2011
Just walked 20 miles of this trail on Saturday. We had 4 adults and 9 scouts all complete the 20 miles of the trail in 7.5 hours. We started in Park City, and ended in Hoytsville. If you are going to walk this trail, I highly recommend starting in Park City and walking DOWN. Trail is very safe, and we enjoyed walking along the stream for most of the hike. We even had a baby moose accompany us for the i-80 canyon portion of the trail.
The trail may be snow-packed at this point, but we enjoyed a very nice hike! I recommend stopping at the picnic table between miles 9 & 10 for lunch. If you only want to do 20 miles, you can exit the trail about 1/4 mile past the 20-mile marker at the Hobson Lane overpass in Hoytsville.
I started out in the wide open plains, just before Atkinson at 11 am. The wind was behind me, and great views all along the way. It's downhill mostly to Wanship, then it levels out. There is a beautiful river by the trail, and lots of beautiful pastures. There's some really old barns and mills along the way.
I rode to Coalville and decided to turn back, so I could be back before dark. As I turned around, I was faced with riding straight into the wind....all the way back, with a gentle uphill climb from Wanship back to my vehicle. Took me forever, and I had to walk a lot of the way. I was absolutely exhausted. But all in all I really enjoyed the experience.
I encountered a young moose on the trail which was really neat, and when I finally reached the open plains near Park City, I got to enjoy an absolutely beautiful sunset over the snow tipped Wasatch Mountains. If you go, it might be better to start out by Echo Lake, so the wind will be at your back on the way back in. The whole trip took me about 6 hours.
The correct coordinates on the picture of Park City Trail Head are
N40.66130 W111.49787 elev 6817’.
Parking for the Park City Trail Head is off Prospective Ave.
"My husband and I rode this trail from Coalville to Park City. We went in the middle of the day which was dumb, but that was the only time we had. We weren't acclimated to the altitude (our home is in Texas, 300 ft. above sea level!) but that didn't seem too much of a problem. I was getting really tired and thought we would never get to Park City, but I enjoyed the ride very much.
I had had my hip replaced 8 months previously so my condition wasn't what it should have been. Nevertheless, I thought I did pretty well for a 48 year-old grandma! We'll do the trail again next time we're in Utah, but we'll have SALTY snacks with us and go early in the morning if possible.
It's so nice not to have to worry about traffic. That's what I love about rail-trails. My husband rode the trail back to Coalville, but I wimped out! I went to McDonald's and got the biggest order of french fries I could get with EXTRA salt!"
"Started our journey down near echo resevior. The goal was to get 50 miles. My 11 year old son was trying to get his Boy Scout Cycling Merit Badge. Started out at 11:00 a.m., Monday, July 1. We wore 70 oz. Camel Backs and had 16 oz. water bottles on our bikes. We had to do the 50 miles in 8 hours or less to earn the badge. Passed by Coalville on 1/2 mile of pavement. Then the trail went back to hard-packed dirt. Temperatures were in the 90's. Very flat ride until you start nearing Wanship, Utah.
Beautiful stream accompanies you for most of the ride, but you're out in the sun during this whole ride so we were constantly looking for a shady spot to rest. Made 7 stops on our way to Park City. There are tables under some freeway over-passes, and that was really nice! In other shady spots, we just sat on the ground and ate power bars. Went through 4 power bars each for the whole trip. Consumed all water by the time we reached Park City, we had to refill! The hill going into Park City is not very bad (1 - 2% grade I think). Refilled our water supplies and began our trip back.
Costed our mountain bikes most of the way down from Park City. Peddaled acroos the open plain to Promintory, and then costed again down to Wanship. Had a tail wind most of that distance, but as we began riding towards Hoytsville, picked up a head wind. By the time we reached Coalville we were exhausted. At 42 miles, the sun was getting to us and we started feeling nausia. We hit the 50 mile mark and had no water left. Bring lots of water if you do this trail in the summer. You'll be in the sun most of the time. Use a very high Sun Block (SPF 30, or 45) to protect yourself from the intense sun. We did it, and it was a beautiful trail, but the winds can be tough, so prepare well! Both my son and I drank over a gallon of water on this trip, so again, bring a big (100 oz?) Camelback.
One more note, it took us 5 hours and 45 minutes to ride 50 miles on this trail. Not bad for 40 year old out-of-shape Scout Master and an energetic 11 year old Boy Scout! I think kids will definitely enjoy a shorter version of this trip! :-)"
"Downhill most of the war from Park City to Echo, you will find this an enjoyable one-way ride from Park City with pickup points along the way where the trail crosses several roads. Alternatively, one could ride up from anywhere along the trail up to Park City and have nice return to their car. Amazing views of Parley's Park and surrounding mountains along the way. Only the section of trail through Wanship is paved, all else is gravel. I rode the trail from Park City on a Haluzak Horizon recumbent bicycle where I switched to the paved back-roads on my way to Henifer, Utah. This was the second leg of a three day ride from Orem/Provo -> Jordanell -> Henifer -> Big Mt/Emmigration Canyon ride. Camping at Jordanell and at Henifer, Utah along the way. If you have four days, plan a rest day at Henifer or further up east cayon before the last day which takes you on a 1500 - 2000 foot climb over Big Mt and then to Emmigration Cayon. The Union Pacific Trail is continuous from Park City to the Echo lake dam. It's a wonderful trail."
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