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This is the third installment in a series on the trail modernization taking place at Corner Canyon Trails in Draper, Utah. 

By Lucy Higgins • April 25, 2023

It’s no secret that Utah’s hiking is parallel to none, between the easily accessible trails and the scenic mountain landscapes those trails offer. In park visitation alone, Utah Parks and Recreation reported a 36 percent increase in visitation in 2020 during peak recreation months—a trend that didn’t seem to be swayed by the Covid pandemic. And blowing those numbers out of the water? Visitations to the Wasatch canyons surrounding Salt Lake City. 

In a February 3 article, The Salt Lake City Tribune reported, “The busiest spot for outdoor recreation is the network of largely non-motorized trails in the Central Wasatch behind Salt Lake City. Year-round, residents and tourists alike flock to the trails to enjoy the alpine wonders of Big and Little Cottonwood and Mill Creek canyons. The so-called Tri-Canyon area sees more visits than Utah’s Mighty 5 national parks combined with traffic increasing every year.”

The numbers are staggering and, in the case of the Tri-Canyon area, it’s required the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest to team up with Salt Lake County to develop a plan for trail development, parking, e-bike use, and more. Farther south, the same rapid spike in trail use is occurring throughout Corner Canyon trails, a trail network spanning across roughly 4,000 acres of land easily reached from the nearby city of Draper. 

When we cut a new trail, it’s at a grade that would accommodate all user levels.

– Bill Becker

Fortunately, Corner Canyon Trails Foundation, the city of Draper, and the many involved community members have created a network that can accommodate a growing population. 

For Bill Becker, Executive Director for the Corner Canyon Trail Foundation, part of the allure of Draper’s local trail system is accessibility from town, and the user-friendly pitch throughout the conserved land doesn’t hurt, either. “The benefit [to the trails’ location]  is the grade is pretty desirable. When we cut a new trail, it’s at a grade that would accommodate all user levels.” Doing so, Becker explains, helps to minimize user conflict, even as traffic within the trail system increases. 

Not only is each trail well thought out to mitigate conflict, multiple trailheads help disperse traffic and access the entirety of the trail network. Lower Corner Canyon’s parking area marks the lowest starting point to hop onto the same-named multi-use, non-motorized trail, which weaves through two neighborhoods before linking to additional hiking, biking, and running trails. There’s also the Coyote Hollow Trailhead, which connects to downhill biking trails, and the Potato Hill Trailhead, which sits geographically higher and offers a means to easily reach southwestern trails. The list goes on for hiking access, with multiple pull-offs available from Corner Canyon Road alone.  

Potato Hill Trail – Tyler Mower / Unsplash

Corner Canyon’s multiple trailheads and trail networks with clearly defined user groups has been an intentional development. As the region has shifted from ranch and farmland to suburban development, the main user groups have changed as well, including a steadily growing increase in bikers. For the most part, that shift has been a boon to the community, although an environmental impact statement conducted in 2022 by the Utah Department of Transportation, comments did state that certain residents had decreased trail use due to bikers frightening their horses. Even so, Corner Canyon offers an equestrian center and connection to specific trails designated for horses or multi-use. 

As with any growing community, challenges are bound to emerge. But with enough foresight into trail and trailhead development, increased population and trail traffic doesn’t have to carry a negative impact. After all, the healthiest community is an engaged and dynamic one that sees input from its citizens. As Corner Canyon’s trails have shown, it’s an ongoing—and doable—process.