The Snyderville Basin Recreation District is unveiling a short-term trail access plan, as warmer weather arrives with the spring.
Recently, Basin Rec and Summit County officials have been concerned that the Basin’s world-class trail system is being loved to death.
The effects have been seen as trails and parking lots in residential areas are crowded by locals, out-of-county visitors, and recreationists trying to get outside during the past year of pandemic.
Basin Rec Director Dana Jones said their trail access plan looks at a couple of factors. One of those is transportation to trailheads that doesn’t involve cars.
“So maybe they’re going to ride their bike, or maybe they’re going to ride a shuttle, and get them to those trailhead points so that we don’t have those impacts at the trailhead points,” she said.
Jones said another important issue is dispersal.
“Rather than everybody wanting to use the same trail,” she said. “Everybody’s trying to park at Rob’s and use that trail. Showing some of the other areas and ways to get to other trails that are just as good and just as useful. And that kind of not only reduces the parking issue, but also any kind of overcrowding on the trail system.”
Thirdly, she said, they have hired a patrol officer to educate the public on parking restrictions and enforce the rules if necessary.
Jones added that they’re looking at ways to inform drivers about parking availability around the trails.
“There’s everything from some kind of sensors in the pavement that say how many spaces are left,” she said. “You see it in the (China Bridge) parking garage right next door to the studio here, how many spaces are in this area. Airports have them all the time. So possibly some kind of signage down at the bottom saying, this many parking spaces available, or here’s your overflow parking area and other ways to get there. Those are also something we’re looking at, cause I know the neighborhood is impacted by all the cars going up and down. And what I’ve heard is that people are actually driving up there. When there’s not a space, they just park there and idle, and wait for someone to come off the trail, which is also a problem.”
One question arises, though, when Basin Rec asks people to take alternate transit to the trails.
A majority of trail users, including visitors from Salt Lake, take their dogs, Jones said, because dogs aren’t allowed on some trails in the Salt Lake Valley or the watersheds.
But will users be allowed to take mass transit accompanied by their dogs?
“We have talked to the Transit District, and they are not going to be allowing dogs on the new transit system,” she said. “But we’re really exploring maybe some other options. Maybe partnering with the transit system ourself, creating shuttles just for trails and allowing dogs. Because it is possible. I have seen it done, I’ve seen it done on busses and trains. And so I think it’s definitely something that we could do, and we are taking a look at that. … If we were to explore our own trail transit system, then I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be every day.”
On a related item, Jones said the Discovery project trailhead should be open by mid-to-late summer. She said that facility, with access to the Toll Canyon trail, should help take pressure off the trail accesses in Summit Park.