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City Creek Canyon

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Description: City Creek Canyon Road starts at Bonneville Blvd and heads east up the canyon. Cars only on even numbered days and bicycles and pedestrians only on odd numbered days.
Comments: This great ride enjoys the solitude of being without cars - but is only available on odd numbered days. The ride averages a 7.3% grade, but really seems like two very different rides to me. The lower portion is a lot like Millcreek and averages a 5.6% grade of mostly rolling hills. Once you pass the water treatment facility (I think that's what it is) the road deteriorates and gets quite narrow. This upper section averages a 9.4% grade with some rather steep sections and is mostly shaded with lots of water running past. Another nice thing about this ride is that there are restrooms and water fountains all along the way.
Distance: 5.70 miles (one way)
GPS track log: Here (right click and select "Save Target As")
Total Elevation Gain: 1489 feet
Elevation Profile:
ride elevation profile

Interactive route map: (colors indicate relative elevation): legend

User Ratings

It's always a pleasure to ride on a road that's closed to cars. The upper section gets a bit rough, but it's nicely shaded.
Posted Sep. 24, 2006 by Joe

Narrow road, however, no cars! Lots of pedestrians that are quite respectful and tolerate of riders. All dogs were on leashes too, which is nice. Steady, comfortable climb with some steeper bumps at the top.
Posted Sep. 26, 2006 by spinprincess96

Everybody loves this one, but I don't really like it at all. Bottom half is crowded with runners and top half is too rough for road bikes. After the climb you have a 15mph speed limit on the way down. So you don't even get the thrill of hitting 45mph after your brutal climb! I'll take the cars in Emigration over the speed limit and joggers in CIty Creek any day.
Posted Jan. 24, 2007 by Taylor

It's close enough to home that it's really easy to jump out for a quick one right after work, especially now that it's staying light later. The road definitely needs some repair above the water treatment plant though. And I've never seen it so crowded that I've felt compelled to hold it to 15mph on the descent.
Posted Mar. 26, 2007 by Flahute

City Creek is one of the best rides in the entire area. I have ridden it since the 1970's before they stoped cars from driving up the canyon with you. As far as the road conditions it has been worse. Just deal with it. The rough surface slows down may who would exceed their skills were it smoth as glass. Watch out more for animals in the road, deer,snakes and who knows. The ride is most always cool & quit. It is a good effort to reach the top but why else do we ride? enjoy all!
Posted Sep. 24, 2007 by Ken Gardner

This is an excellent ride. Love the great scenary and the sound of running streams. Nice and steady climb to the top. For some reason, it is closed on holidays? Which is kind of a bummer.
Posted Sep. 03, 2007 by Martin

Ever since Emigration Canyon has been torn to construction bits, this has been my new ride of choice. Much quieter than most other rides too, and I only was passed by two vehicles going a very slow speed. The only real complaint I have about it is that I am afraid, even with braking quite hard, that some ped or bicyclist won't be paying attention as I go down it and then I would ruin my day and their day.
Posted Aug. 15, 2007 by Zed

This ride is great! It is easy to get to, plenty of parking and if you go during the day it isnt crowded at all. Makes for a very pretty ride in the fall as the leaves change colors. Watch out for snakes-I have seen 2 on the road in the last week, thank goodness they werent rattlesnakes!
Posted Aug. 09, 2007 by Lander

Don't think of it as being too narrow, too rough, etc. Think of it as single track for a road bike. It's awesome. No cars, and after the first two miles, very few bikes even. There are big patches of new asphalt, so I believe the worst of the old road is gone. I just can't say enough good things about this ride.
Posted Jul. 08, 2007 by Al Peterson

Great news for those who do not like the roughness of the upper part of the ride. The city patched many of the roughest parts of the road in early May 2007. Those rough parts are now smooth as can be. Enjoy! Great ride. I do the ride almost daily.
Posted May. 23, 2007 by David - Avenues

I am grateful to live so close to such a great ride. It's likely too short to be considered "epic" by many cyclists, but it's a great shorter ride. The absence of cars (although be aware that you may see a service vehicle) is a huge plus. The climb is an excellent workout. And the downhill is scenic enough, and includes enough sweeping curves that you don't have to "bomb it" to enjoy it.
Posted Mar. 08, 2008 by Mark T, SLC

No complaints...I even like the ride there from Holladay across I-80 on the bike bridge, north on the Bonneville SL Trail, by the U and the hospitals and the Avenues. It is quiet and steep and a great addition to it's sister canyons to the south.
Posted Jul. 29, 2008 by Ms EMZ

First off, we're new to Salt Lake, there are absolutly no directions on here and we got completely lost trying to find this. So, for anyone else like us... Take Canyon Rd. off North Temple just east of State street. However, after we found what we think is the trailhead at Memory Grove (?) we had a wonderful time. There is ample shade and plenty of room for everyone, on the lower section. I would just say watch out for crazy dogs who should be on leashes.
Posted Aug. 17, 2008 by Christa

great ride, but the page's comment that cars are allowed on even days and pedestrians and bikes on odd is incorrect. I believe it should state: bikes on odd, no cars except city/maintenance vehicles, peds on odd or even.
Posted Aug. 14, 2008 by Jim Rock

I love this ride, have been doing it since the late '80s and always enjoy the workout. In the past, the Odd-bikes/Even-cars always ran just from Memorial Day to Labor Day. After Labor Day it was bikes, peds, & service vehicles only. What's the deal?!? Don't take such a great ride away for what amounts to half a year!!!
Posted Sep. 06, 2008 by Vicki

A very good ride. No cars and the presence of wildlife makes this rides one of the best in SLC.
Posted Sep. 08, 2008 by Mike Sorenson

It's incredible that you can have a natural, canyon experience so close to a major city. The foresight to preserve this experience was beyond wise. I could get in a lunch hour ride from my downtown office. Challenging enough to get in a short workout, but kind enough for my eleven year old son to make it to the top. A very special resource.
Posted Sep. 12, 2008 by Roger Tobari

It is a challenging ride at least in a half to 3/4 sprint which I did it in. Actually parts seemed quite steep to me who as little more than an weekend warrior at best do struggle w/long steep rides. I did lengthen the ride out by parking down at the S.E. Corner of the Capitol Bldg. And by doing a quick sprint up gravity hill at the bottom before returning to where I began the ride. All in all very enjoyable - good for the heart, soul & mind!
Posted Apr. 14, 2009 by Brian

I was just on City Creek today. I don't know how anyone can complain. Yeah, the road isn't the best in parts, but it is amazing to get out into the beautiful canyon with a creek running by within five minutes of work. Awesome lunchtime ride!
Posted Jul. 07, 2009 by Dave K.

I Parked at the capitol and rode up to the canyon from there...proceeded to the treatment facility, and turned around there. It's a workout for a middle aged biker who is new to biking. I did succeed getting to the treatment plant, but it was a bit of a slog on the steeper sections. Nonetheless, it was beautiful, I'll keep working on it until it's not such a push for me, but I'm running out of time before winter hits. I'd recommend it to anyone, but with the caveat that it's not easy. I would say it's a bit harder than the section of the ride from Hogle Zoo up to Ruth's in Emigration. The ride up to Ruth's isn't as pretty though, and you have to share the road with cars and faster bikers (which at times is narrow and uncomfortable)
Posted Oct. 05, 2009 by NewBiker

There are several potential approaches for this ride. You can start at the bottom of Memory Grove Park and have a nice warm up ride to the park gate. If you are a beginning rider, then this is a fantastic place to get your feet wet and build some endurance. The water treatment plant is just below mike marker 3 on this trail. This is a good ride close to town and you can work yourself as hard as you would like. Even the most experienced riders were huffing and puffing up this canyon. It was scenic and a beautiful 65F outside. I fully recomend this ride.
Posted Mar. 21, 2010 by Alaskanwonder

I've always wondered how much time it'd take for a true athlete biker to make it up this hill. It just so happens there's a NYTimes article this weekend in which Alberto Contador is reported to have made a 5.5 mile 7.5% grade run in 21 minutes (causing speculation of doping, BTW). City Creek is 5.6 miles from the gate to the turnabout with a 7.3% average grade. So, now you riders have a benchmark!
Posted Jul. 11, 2010 by Dan R.

just did this ride for the first time in 15 years and it was a great workout
Posted Jul. 27, 2010 by matt

This is a fantastic ride. It is amazing how quickly you can transition from the city to the peace and splendor of the canyon. The listed grades are too high though - it averages 3.5% up to the water tower and then 6.5% from there to Rotary Park. The overall average grade is 4.9%
Posted Oct. 04, 2010 by Craig

The City Creek Nature Preserve is my all time favorite ride, and Iíve toured many venues throughout the western United States. The road offers a stunning sampling of natures alpine ambiance available to citizens residing near the Wasatch Front. A wide variety of foliage and wildlife sightings available to pedestrians and cyclists, just a stones throw from the bustle of the city. Dan R wondered about how long it would take a professional athlete to bike the distance from the gate to the end of the paved road. Twice a year an amateur age group race is held in the canyon, the city creek bike sprint, and Iíve participated in the event several times. Typically the overall winners time is about 21 minutes, so it may be reasonable to expect a good Tour de France caliber hill climber to finish the route under 19 minutes, if not less. Maybe Contador didnít take any dope during the race referred to in the NY Times article, thus explaining a relatively slow time. :>).
Posted Oct. 31, 2010 by kenneth evans

In the winter this ride is plowed only up just past the water treatment plant, about two thirds of the total distance. I've been riding it a lot this season and it's often warmer than in the valley on inversion days and less windy than the valley on windy days. Last year I couldn't ride all the way to the top until June due to fallen trees and big late snowstorms in April and May. Most years it's open to the top in April, though. Right now (March 21 -- first day of spring) there's still a lot of snow and it's hard even trying to hike up to the top with winter snow gear. The route starts more than a mile (and 300 feet) below where the map here shows; you can ride car-free right up from downtown through Memory Grove park. From anywhere in SLC you can easily get there without a car. From anywhere on the Wasatch Front, you can ride TRAX or Frontrunner to within a couple blocks.
Posted Mar. 21, 2011 by Brian

This ride is a great way to spend an afternoon. It has great views, challenging but rewarding sections, and most importantly, no cars on odd days. Take an hour or two after school or work for this great cardio workout if you have the chance. I'm knocking off a star only because the road above the water treatment plant is a bit sketchy. It might be a good idea (if you're on a road bike) to ride Emigration or Millcreek until some of the debris is cleared off later in the summer.
Posted May. 26, 2011 by Max

Very nice ride, plus itís so close to downtown! Took me 30min up, 20 down. Until the water treatment facility itís quite easy, the top part has some real steep sections. Coming down you need to be alert! The upper part is narrow and has 2 sections with water trickling on it. There are sections with brand new asphalt - perfect surface, the rest is kind of ok too. Watch for bikers/runners occupying the entire width of the road as they talk with their buddies! Maybe they think if there are no cars than they can ride in your "lane" as well? The lower section is great fun, no need to break except the posted top speed is 15mph.. I have almost run over a decent sized tarantula, got me jump out of my skin. Saw a small snake as well. The road can be crowded in the afternoons.
Posted Sep. 13, 2011 by Mike

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