The Salt Lake City Council is reviewing an updated master plan for the Foothills Trail System. The Mayor’s Administration spent nearly two years gathering public input between 2016 and 2018, which was used to guide plan development. If approved, the master plan will provide a development outline including layouts and timelines for the next ten years. The Council is currently accepting comments on the master plan, and will be holding a public hearing on Tuesday, February 18 at 7:00 p.m. at the City and County Building. If you want your priorities to be considered during the process for determining the future of this area, it’s time to speak or forever hold your peace.

This effort represents the first master plan for the Foothills Natural Area, which covers the area between Salt Lake City’s northern boundary and Emigration Canyon. Due to an ongoing recreation boom and steadily rising user demand, the current trail system faces increased pressure that isn’t sustainable into the future. Resource management, trail maintenance and user conflict issues are especially acute during the spring and fall as snowbound higher elevation trails force users from disparate trail systems into a single area.

The Foothills Trail System currently contains 41 miles of existing trails, to which the master plan aims to add 65 miles of new trails. These new trails would include a mixture of multi-directional and one-way trails in addition to multi-use and dedicated single-use trails. Providing designated trails for specific user groups has historically helped reduce the user conflict and maintenance issues that often threaten access and development. Additionally, the plan would provide for a growing network of improved trailheads, information kiosks and wayfinding signage at trail intersections. Currently, the dearth of this basic infrastructure in the Foothills Trail System can’t meet the needs of a growing user base, and doesn’t meet the standard set by comparable trail systems in other places.

Master planning may not sound like the most exciting process, but it’s an essential starting point to creating a sustainable trail system. Substantial time and resources are committed to trail system development, so it’s crucial to get things right with a holistic vision. Take a look at the complete details of the Foothills Trail System Master Plan here, and click here to submit your comments to the Salt Lake City Council and for further information about the Council’s public hearing next week.

See all our outdoors coverage here.