Skip to main content

Cottonwood Heights Journal

Stay on the trail: city finishes Big Cottonwood Canyon Trail

Jul 18, 2019 02:43PM ● By Cassie Goff

The Big Cottonwood Canyon Trail can be accessed near Old Mill, at approximately 6611 East Big Cottonwood Canyon Road. (Cassie Goff/City Journals)

By Cassie Goff | [email protected]

The Big Cottonwood Canyon Trail has finally been finished. For years, a small section of the trail was unpaved, which pushed travelers out onto the road, creating unsafe situations for both those traveling on the trail and drivers traveling along Big Cottonwood Canyon Road. Finally, that section of the trail is completely paved. 

Now, undisturbed smooth black asphalt covering the new addition to the trail begins at 3555 East Big Cottonwood Canyon Road and continues for approximately 300 feet to 3509 East Big Cottonwood Canyon Road. 

The Big Cottonwood Canyon Trail follows the Big Cottonwood Creek for about two miles (3.8 miles roundtrip), spanning from the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon to the I-215 freeway. The trail has various access points: one toward the west can be accessed under I-215 near the Cottonwood Corporate Center (approximately 3000 East Cottonwood Parkway), another near the midway point close to the Old Mill (approximately 6611 East Big Cottonwood Canyon Rd.), and toward the east end of the trail by the park-and-ride at 3653 Fort Union Boulevard or the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon at 6708 South Big Cottonwood Canyon Road. 

According to Backcountry Post, the trail is suitable for hikers of all abilities including wheelchair and stroller users. It is recommended that bicycles yield to pedestrians. And dogs are allowed on-leash. 

On June 11, a ribbon cutting for the final section of the Big Cottonwood Canyon trail within Cottonwood Heights was held. In attendance was Mayor Mike Peterson, three-fourths of the Cottonwood Heights City Council, various members of the Cottonwood Heights Parks, Trials, and Open Space Committee, city staff members and residents.

“This new portion separates the trail from the roadway making it safer for both pedestrians and motorists,” said Councilmember Tali Bruce.

In order to construct this section of the trail, the Cottonwood Heights Public Works department worked with contractor Dave Harrison from DRD Paving to shift the road over, allowing for extra space for the trail along the shoulder, and to align the road safely for drivers. 

Funding for this project came from Salt Lake County’s County Active Transportation Network Improvement Program, or CATNIP, grant and the Utah Department of Transportation’s Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) fund. The city did not have to pay for an easement, and the property was donated by resident Doug Shelby. 

Finishing this project was on the city’s to-do list for years. In December 2016, during his interview for city council, former Cottonwood Heights Councilman Tee Tyler mentioned the trail. “I’d really like to see us finish the trail. Right now, if you are jogging, biking or walking the trail, you get pushed onto the road and I don’t think it’s safe. (Former City Engineer) Brad Gilson, (former City Manager) John Park and I are continuing to find a way to finish it. We think we can get funding outside city money,” Tyler said.  

In May 2017, Cottonwood Heights engineering staff members submitted a $250,000 CATNIP application for the gap trail in front of the existing homes on Big Cottonwood Canyon Road. If approved, the CATNIP money and the TAP money would allow the city to complete the roadway realignment project. 

A little over a month later, on June 27, former Economic and Development Director Brian Berndt announced that the CATNIP grant had been approved. On July 11, the Cottonwood Heights City Council unanimously approved an inter-local agreement with Salt Lake County for the transfer of up to $250,000 of transportation funds to the city for the trail. 

On July 8, 2017, the Cottonwood Heights City Council unanimously approved an agreement for engineering services with Gilson Engineering for planning, design, preparation of specifications and bid packages, construction management, etc. of a project involving completion of the last unfinished segment of the Big Cottonwood Canyon Trail.