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UPDATE: 100-year-old dam washed out by East Canyon Creek

Flooding at Spring Creek Trail
Cam Stevens
East Canyon Creek broke through a bridge near Pheasant Way in April 2023.

Hikers and bikers going to the Glenwild trail network from Kimball Junction may need to take a new route now that an access point has flooded.

East Canyon Creek has breached a dirt bridge and dam connecting Pheasant Way to Stealth Trail below the Glenwild Golf Club.

Although it leads to the Glenwild trail network, the bridge wasn’t marked on Snyderville Basin Recreation’s trail maps. Hikers and bikers should now stick to official trailheads.

This map shows where Kimball Creek, running right to left, has flooded a bridge connecting Pheasant Way and Stealth Trail.
Google Earth
This map shows where East Canyon Creek, running right to left, has flooded a bridge connecting Pheasant Way and Stealth Trail.

The collapse happened April 27 on Swaner EcoPreserve land north of Kimball Junction. Director Nell Larson said the dam may be 100 years old.

It dates back to the days before refrigerators, originally used as an ice dam—although not the kind that causes problems on roofs.

Larson said people used the dam to block water in the winter, freeze it and store the ice.

“That ice was cut to be used for cold storage for people's ice boxes,” she said. “And it would be brought into Park City for homes and businesses to use.”

Larson said the creek was running at about 200 cubic feet per second when the dam started to fail in April. But it withstood stronger flows in the past, especially in 2011, so Swaner was surprised the dam broke when it did.

More recently, as the Swaner EcoPreserve studied local fish migration, it discovered the dam may have been in the way.

“We realized that it was blocking fish passage for some of our native species like mountain suckers, and Bonneville cutthroat trout,” Larson said.

Swaner said it considered removing the dam 20 years ago but tabled the issue over concerns about sediment running downstream.

No fishing is allowed along East Canyon Creek within the Swaner EcoPreserve, and the preserve said it doesn’t expect the breached dam to change how many fish are available downstream.

Larson said she now sees a chance to improve the area.

“The fish passage piece of this is the silver lining or the scenario where there's some opportunity,” she said. 

Flooding at Spring Creek Trail
Cam Stevens
This is a flooded East Canyon Creek last week, shot from Stealth Trail.

Any new construction will have to wait until the water subsides later in the summer and fall.

Power lines and a water main ran through the dam; they have been disconnected as a safety precaution. In the meantime, Larson said Swaner and its partners are mapping out the best way to restore habitat for local fish.

She said it is a larger and more significant project for the watershed than the usual small and scattered projects Swaner takes on.