Many outdoor activities come with a steep premium to get started—road and mountain bikes, rock-climbing gear, kayaks and paddles can all cost thousands of dollars. Then there’s the ancillary gear required to transport these treasure chests of primary gear to various locales, which gouge the wallet even deeper. But there is a solution to the sticker shock of strolling through an outdoor-recreation mega-mall: trail running.
Sure, a pair of nice kicks can run $100 or more. But that whole shoeless or nearly-shoeless craze that’s been going on for a while now wasn’t really meant for asphalt. So, if buying shoes is too expensive, just go barefoot. Nothing will make those stoic mountain bikers walking their clunky machines up the hills more envious than watching a barefoot runner gallop past. Happy trails!
Bonneville Shoreline Trail
Salt Lake City
This trail, accessible at multiple points (the most popular are across Sunnyside Avenue near Hogle Zoo, and near the Jewish Community Center), is one of the reasons Salt Lakers are wildly happy folks. Heavily used by hikers, mountain bikers and runners, the trail is a much-treasured escape from urban life. An office worker in downtown Salt Lake City can flee the confines of the desk chair and, after a quick trot through City Creek Canyon, access more than 13 miles of continuous trail. BonnevilleShorelineTrail.org
Even the swiftest runner will want to make a day of this one. At around 7.5 miles each way and with 4,580 feet of elevation gain, the 11,749-foot Timp is a heart-stopper. If you go on a weekend, there’s no shortage of people, so start early. The wildflowers, wildlife and soaring views are well worth it. One can start from the Timpanooke trailhead up American Fork Canyon, or the Aspen Grove trailhead, accessible through Provo Canyon, near Sundance Resort. If it’s a college-football Saturday, wear your favorite team’s shirt: There are plenty of blue-clad BYU students holding hands at the summit.
Exploring the roughly 20 miles of trails around Antelope Island is a great way to gain an appreciation for the vast expanse of the Great Salt Lake and the surrounding topography. To the east, the Wasatch Mountains jut out from the earth. To the west, endless mountain ranges fold into Nevada. The trails don’t include any vast climbs like those in the Wasatch, so the running goes on without a heart attack. From Interstate 15, take exit 332 for Antelope Drive and head west. Entrance is $10 per vehicle.
Hunter Canyon Rim Trail
If you’re looking for a mellow run in the desert, the Hunter Canyon Rim Trail is for you. At four miles, this sandy red-rock path crisscrosses a seasonal creek. Elevation gain is only a few hundred feet, and it’s located 7.5 miles outside of town along Kane Creek Road. For a longer, much more strenuous adventure, keep trucking through Pritchett Canyon. This transforms the relative ease of Hunter Canyon into a burly 12-mile loop. Watch out for bikes, and take lots of water!
Lone Peak Wilderness
Hiking to the summit of the 11,362-foot Pfeifferhorn could take a body all day. Running it, though, takes just a few hours, depending on fitness level. Located in the heart of the Lone Peak Wilderness (between Little Cottonwood and American Fork canyons), the Pfeifferhorn is one of the most striking peaks in the Wasatch. A direct route to the top is from the White Pine trailhead, about five miles up Little Cottonwood Canyon. From there, jog a couple of miles up to Red Pine Lake. From here, it’s a scramble over granite boulder fields, and across a slightly dicey fin of rock before a final push to the summit.