City Escape: Salt Lake City, Utah

Text: George Toelke • Photography: George Toelke

This route travels the rural “Wasatch Back” beginning at the mouth of Emigration Canyon in Salt Lake County and loops northward on twisty canyon roads, over mountain passes, and through the pastoral Morgan and Upper Ogden Valleys. June, September, and October are the most scenic months to ride.

Length

Approximately 170 miles or 190 miles, which includes the optional 4,000-foot climb to Powder Mountain.

Meet-up Spot

Ruth’s Diner, 4160 Emigration Canyon Rd, Salt Lake City, UT 

Lunch Stop

Shooting Star Saloon, 7350 East 200 S, Huntsville, UT. This landmark is the oldest continuously-operating saloon in Utah dating back to 1879. The burgers are legendary, too, (801) 745-2002.

Scenery (5 out of 5)

Catch vistas of beautiful snowcapped mountains, lakes, and lush green valleys in June, which slowly brown as mountain snowpack melts and summer ensues. Autumn colors come alive up high in September and work their way down to the valley floor in October.

Traffic (4 out of 5)

Traffic is light, but watch for bicyclists. Emigration Canyon, East Canyon, and the Morgan Valley roads are very popular bicycle routes, especially on weekends. 

Difficulty (4 out of 5)

Roads are mostly twisty canyon carvers with tight turns and some switchbacks. Elevations range from 4,400 to 7,350 feet and reach 9,000 feet on the optional Powder Mountain loop.

Road Conditions (3 out of 5)

Roads are narrow and often lack shoulders. Watch for bicyclists, deer, and gravel, especially on tight corners and switchbacks.

Points of Interest

  1. Hogle Zoo

    View more than 800 animals in this natural habitat that spans 42 acres in Salt Lake City, UT. Popular attractions are the Rocky Shores, Asian Highlands, and the African Savanna; www.hoglezoo.org.
  2. Eastern Canyon State Park

    Boasting a trail from the days of the Pony Express and early
Mormon pioneers, riders and outdoor enthusiasts alike will
enjoy this hidden gem while hiking, boating, or fishing;
 www.stateparks.utah.gov/parks/east-canyon
  3. Devil’s Slide
    
Check out Mother Nature’s version of a playground: Devil’s Slide. This unique limestone formation found in Morgan County, UT, was created some 75 million years ago following a mountain-building episode, which tilted the rock layers to a near-vertical position; www.geology.utah.gov/map-pub/survey-notes/geosights/devils-slide
  4. Snowbasin Resort

    Take a timeout from the saddle for lift-served mountain biking,
hiking, disc golf, and free Sunday summer concerts at
Snowbasin Resort; www.snowbasin.com
  5. Pineview Reservoir

    In 1937, an earth and rock dam was constructed to control and store Ogden River flood waters, creating Pineview Reservoir. Today, this 132-foot high and 600-foot long dam serves as a water recreation and camping haven; www.utah.com/ogden/pineview.htm.