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Emigration Canyon

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Description: This ride starts at the zoo and heads up to the crest of Emigration canyon.
Comments: This is a very nice ride. A consistent 5% grade. For a longer route, keep going up to the next crest.
Distance: 7.80 miles (one way)
GPS track log: Here (right click and select "Save Target As")
Total Elevation Gain: 1478 feet
Elevation Profile:
ride elevation profile

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

User Ratings

I really like this ride. The shallow grades early on make for a good warm up. You can continue on if you're looking for a more challenging ride. The only time there's not other riders on the road is when there's snow on the ground.
Posted Sep. 24, 2006 by Joe

I like this ride for strength training for it's long and consistent even, easy grade. Look out for rocks in the shoulder, particularly on the way down!
Posted Sep. 26, 2006 by spinprincess96

It's a great climb that many people can do. Therefore, it can make for a very social day of riding. You can drop down on the other side, make a left at the highway and head up Mt.Dell/Big Mountain. This one is more challenging; it's about 7 miles with about 2000 feet of climbing. Be warned, this is called Big Mountain for a reason. There are sections on it that felt 9-10 percent - if not more. If you drop down the other side, the riding is quite nice and with a fair amount of shaded areas. It's not as steep as the other side of Big Mountain. It will take you to a recreational area with a mini-mart. Beyond that, I don't know but someone told me that it's not worth doing.
Posted Sep. 30, 2006 by 514Climber

This is probably my favorite climbing route. It is something that most people could do, but it is still a great workout. Road is great on the way up, but a little rough on the downhill side. There is often a uphill gust that can make the descent not as fast as it should be. One time it was almost as hard to get down as it was to climb! I usually start from downtown SLC and that adds about another 500 ft vertical and 3+ miles to the course above.
Posted Jan. 24, 2007 by Taylor

Even after living in SLC for more than 5 years, this was my first time up the canyon (except driving up to Ruth's Diner for breakfast), so I had no idea what to expect. I'm not a climber, as many who know me will attest, but I was able to hold a steady 10mph up Emigration today, using my ride from Capitol Hill to the canyon mouth as a warm-up. Not a lot of traffic, especially once you get past Ruth's, and the roads are in decent shape, although in many places the shoulders suck. Winds kept me from hitting any speeds over 30 mph on the descent from Little Mountain Summit, and most of the time I was struggling to keep it at 23-24 mph. I don't know if it's because it's a little more difficult, but even with the crappy roads above the water treatment plant, I think I like City Creek Canyon better, despite the 15mph speed limit (which I generally ignore).
Posted Apr. 07, 2007 by Flahute

This is one of my favorite rides in SL Valley. If you're looking for a tougher ride, when you get to Little Mtn Summit, head down towards the resevoir and take a left, heading for Big Mtn. It's a tough climb but the views are outstanding up there, there is little traffic, and the ride down is fun.
Posted Oct. 03, 2007 by Billy Goat

An excellent ride except that they are continually tearing up the roads leading up to the top creating several delays. I counted three this summer.
Posted Aug. 17, 2007 by Zed

This is a great ride! I start from the west end of SLC so it adds a good warm up before hitting the canyon. For me, the best parts about this ride are: 1. A long steady climb with enough variation 2. Beautiful scenery 3. Courteous riders/drivers. The only drawbacks I have with this ride are the rocks and debris on the road, but they are minimal and easy to avoid and the construction (which will eventually improve the road). Be aware that you got to move about 13-14 mph between those set up traffic lights in order to avoid on coming traffic. Bring lotsa water on hot days... and sun screen... oh my tan lines! RIDE THIS CANYON!
Posted Jul. 15, 2007 by Bmark

Looking to the future, I give it a five, but honestly until the construction is done it only deserves a three. There are long sections where the road is down to one lane, with traffic lights dividing up the traffic. Mostly the climbing side is a total mess but the descent side is just fine. If you don't mind that, then it is a heck of a ride. I like the variety of the grade. You climb, coast, climb coast. It's probably one of the easier climbs in the area, but still a good workout. Not as shady as city creek, but still quite nice. The cars seem to be used to lots of bikes, people are courteous. Just a nice laid back ride. The Sun & Moon Cafe tucked up in there is a nice place to stop for a snack.
Posted Jul. 13, 2007 by Al Peterson

Nice. Close to town. And quick good work-out. Love the "rollers" in this one
Posted Jun. 11, 2008 by Tk

Posted Sep. 29, 2008 by Brian Stillman

Very good ride. I'm certain this will end up being one of my favorite local rides. I just started riding seriously a few weeks ago and I was able to reach the summit without killing myself. I started in downtown Salt Lake City and rode all the way up and back. It was just over 32 miles round-trip and the total elevation gain was 2300 feet. Traffic was minimal and the road was in great shape all the way up to the summit. Both shoulders were very clean. The majority of the ride seemed pretty mellow, with just the right mix of shorter steep sections and easier stretches for catching your breath - plenty of opportunities to take in the scenery and enjoy the sounds and fresh air. I'd say the last mile or two was the steepest and most sustained part of the climb, with a couple of winding switchbacks. From the summit you can see a small reservoir below - Little Dell maybe? This is a fantastic ride and I'd recommend it anyone with even just a modest mileage base. You don't need to be terribly fit to enjoy this climb.
Posted May. 23, 2009 by D.S.

Rode this on Friday 8/28/09 as an introduction and warm up to riding one of the canyons east of Salt Lake (visiting from Maryland). Nice ride with fairly good shoulder and scenery. Parked at the Hogle Zoo lot which looked like it was free. Folks can also park next to this lot across Crestview Dr (Donner Trail Park) or at the Pioneer Monument State Park across the street (I think). There were water and restrooms in a ways at the Donner Trail Park. As D.S. stated, the ride was fairly mellow on the way up with the steepest part the last couple of miles during the switchbacks. There are a couple of historic markers I stopped to read, one at the bottom and one at the top of Little Mountain Summit. At the top, you look down on Little Dell Reservoir and the recreation area that surrounds it. Since this was short, I decided to head down that way. Not as much shoulder going down but it was a nice downhill ride to the T intersection. Then I pedaled along route 65 going east a few miles (no shoulder) and then coming back west to I-80 (good shoulder here). There's a rec area (mostly golf course) here and no other amenities. So, have enough water if you go this extra distance. Came back up to Little Summit and coasted down Emigration Canyon. Watch rock debris here and there, especially during the switchback section. Stopped at the Sun and Moon Cafe on the way down and got some great lemonade as it was in the 90s the day I went. Coasted the rest of the way down to the parking lot (then did Wasatch Dr and Wasatch Blvd to E 6200 S). I could see that during the Fall, this would probably be a more scenic ride with the brush and trees turning. Still, it was an okay warmup to the Big Cottonwood ride I did the next day. Just wasn't long enough and hence why I continued on Wasatch.
Posted Sep. 02, 2009 by SBRDave

Great Ride! You can determine how challenging it is. If you ride hard it can be a great climbing workout.
Posted May. 05, 2010 by Jon

Nice ride, even on a single-speed cross bike it was enjoyable. The road is currently being resurfaced on at least 1/3 of the route.
Posted Jun. 17, 2010 by Nick S

Bummer, they've taken what used to be a great ride and have ruined it with a PATHETIC attempt at resurfacing the road! The surface is so rough, bumpy, uneven and runs out to the edge of the shoulder. Easily the roughest road surface on any ride in the SLC valley. It will definitely keep the bike shops busy with everyone buying new tires from wearing them out on this ride.
Posted Jun. 22, 2010 by Sunny Jim

Great ride. Very versatile: easy slopes at the beginning are a nice warm-up and get progressively tougher. Easy enough for beginners or more experienced riders who want to make a leisurely ride out of it, and tough enough that if you want to go fast it's quite a workout. The roads are pretty good and the views are awesome.
Posted Aug. 07, 2010 by Johnny John Jon Johnson

This is so far the only real canyon climb I do so far. I am in moderate shape and only in my second season on the road bike and find this climb quite enjoyable as well as the descent. I guess I havn't really hit a windy day yet as I topped out at just above 42mph following the TOU riders down on Wednesday and rolled most of the descent in the low and mid 30's. I did notice the descent seemed bumpier than I remember from before the crappy resurfacing, but it was clear of debris.
Posted Aug. 19, 2010 by mscampbell208

I use Emigration Canyon as a mainstay winter training ride. The rode is open all winter and when the road over big mountain is closed just make a right and ride to I80 and back. I doubt that 5% grade though because 1. the math comes to just over 3.5% and 2. when I'm doing leg strength training up it I can stay in a 53x21 the whole way(I doubt I could do that on a true 5% climb.) The decent is fun but deceptive because once you pass Sun & Moon you can't coast.
Posted Nov. 06, 2010 by kenny

This was a fantastic ride! I rented a road bike from the SLC Bicycle Transit Center. I thought the grade was less at the bottom than it was at the top. There's a rest area at the top, with a great view. Coming down was a ton of fun! I'd love to do this again next time I'm in town.
Posted Aug. 24, 2011 by Ruth

I live in Nebraska but come out here often to visit family and have wanted to do this for a while. I rented a road bike from the SLC Bicycle Transit Center and really enjoyed the ride. The challenge for me was getting enough oxygen at this altitude since where I live is only about 1100 feet and of course there are no hills this steep in Nebraska either. I enjoyed the uphill challenge, the views, and especially the ride down.
Posted Sep. 08, 2011 by EB

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