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Improvements To Bonanza Flat Area Continue This Summer

Utah Open Lands-Bonanza Flat
Utah Open Lands

Improvements to the Park City-owned Bonanza Flat are in full force this summer. 

Because the 1350 acres south of town is located entirely in Wasatch County, the Wasatch County Council last year required an approved development agreement before Park City could move forward with the trailhead parking lots and pit toilets. Park City Trails Manager, Heinrich Deters says the development approvals were slow to come. “That development agreement was approved on June 27th if my memory serves me. And, as soon as we did that, we started to move forward with the trailheads. Apologies in a sense to the community. The best planning efforts, we were hoping to do this last fall. Everything would go in. It would go in into the winter. And people would basically have a new Bonanza Flat starting this spring.”

The top of Guardsman Pass has always been a trailhead parking area for Bloods Lake as well as access to the Crest Trail. On busy summer weekends, it’s common to see traffic jams, and a lot of trash and waste being left on the pass. Deters explains that parking will  now be very limited with only five or six spaces at the scenic overlook as well as a shuttle drop off area. 

The new Bloods Lake trailhead is a couple miles down from Guardsman Pass. Deters says when finished, they’ll have 40 parking spaces there. The vault toilets are in and the city hired a park employee to keep the area maintained through the summer. The number of new parking spaces he says  will be what was there before, just in different locations. “So, we calculated 124 for entirety for Bonanza Flat. So, that encompasses the Empire Pass area, which I believe is 10. Bonanza Flat trailhead, that’ll be about 40. And, then about 40 there at Bloods Lake. And then five there up at Guardsman Pass. And we have an optional other trailhead that we can put in but we’re not moving forward with that one yet.”

The fourth trailhead parking area on Pine Canyon Road will hold about 40 spaces but for now, it will remain undeveloped. Deters says they’ve counted as many as 100 cars on a busy weekend day. He thinks dispersing the use to several trailheads will make it a better experience for everyone. “So, there’s not so any people on the trails, not so many activities. We can divvy up the different uses. It’s already better than it was in the previous years where everything was concentrated at Guardsman Pass. But. We do have the different trailhead areas. We’ll have signage, crosswalk areas painted in, indicating that there’s trail crossing areas. That will be going in. We’re just working away, trying to get it done.”

In the Conservation Easement, Park City and Utah Open Lands will recommend that no dogs be allowed in the watershed areas of Bloods Lake and Lake Lakawaxen. Dogs, however, will be permitted throughout the rest of the Bonanza Flat.

“We’ve yet to see really good behavior from people, specifically dogs, dog use and dog waste," Deters said. "We haven’t seen the public actually take some sort of stand to make us change that position and make that recommendation to council. So, in a sense, council will have that determination to make when they adopt the conservation easement. But we feel strongly from staff, to planning efforts for two years, that this is what it is. We are at a point where if we don’t do something now, it’s only going to get worse in the future. And, so that will be the recommendation from Utah Open Lands, from staff and from the different planning aspects that there will be no dogs in that watershed area.”

Trailhead improvements will include dog waste stations and garbage cans. Bloods Lake is hiking only. Work is being done on a new trail nearby that goes to Jupiter Peak, which Deters says will be open for biking. The Bonanza Flat trail will be multi-use. That trailhead parking won’t be done for another month.

The Guardsman Pass road is newly paved, which Deters says was a decision made by Wasatch County. Vehicle and downhill bicycle traffic don’t mix well with the large number of hikers, which includes a lot of children.  Dieters says crosswalks and signage will be placed in those dangerous crossings. Enforcement of the area is under Wasatch County’s  jurisdiction. 

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