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After substantial maintenance, Adams Canyon trail has noticeable and unnoticeable improvements

By Patrick Carr - | Nov 28, 2021

Patrick Carr, Standard-Examiner

A new rock causeway, left, keeps the creek off of the Adams Canyon trail Friday, Oct. 29, 2021.

LAYTON — There’s been a lot of work done in the past 18 months on the popular Adams Canyon trail in Davis County.

Hikers can probably be forgiven if they don’t notice the work.

“The problem with good rock work is it’s hard to see, because you have to cover it,” said Matthew Hales, U.S. Forest Service Salt Lake Ranger District trail crews foreman.

Hales was speaking in October on a hike up Adams Canyon with the Standard-Examiner to point out the new work.

The main improvements, designed to fix some trouble spots on Davis County’s most popular trail and move the trail itself out of the main creek bed, were completed this fall thanks to work by Farmington Trails Committee volunteers, Forest Service crews and additional volunteers.

Patrick Carr, Standard-Examiner

This photo illustration shows a newly built trail ledge on the lower cliff band of the Adams Canyon trail Friday, Oct. 29, 2021.

About two-thirds of a mile up the trail is where the trail dips into the creek for the first time and is the site of the first noticeable change.

Crews built an elevated stone causeway on the north side of the creek that raised the trail about a foot, taking it out of the water in a spot where the creek would normally swing into the trail and cover it.

There was another part of the trail that dipped into the creek, but the trail “completely eroded” into the creek, Hales said, so crews built a new 100-foot section of trail above that section.

Another trail improvement is seen farther up in a spot where hikers used to have to walk in the creek itself.

Crews put in a long rock wall to make the incline less steep, then another rock causeway that raised the trail about two feet to get hikers out of the stream, and then took sledgehammers to a large rock to make it easier to walk over.

Patrick Carr, Standard-Examiner

This photo taken Friday, Oct. 29, 2021, in an area of the Adams Canyon trail called the upper cliff band shows a new rock staircase that has been built in an area that used to be a steep, dirt chute.

The Forest Service got a grant from the Utah Department of Natural Resources’ Recreational Trails Program to help fund the project.

The biggest improvements for both trail safety and accessibility happened farther up the trail above the bridge that crosses the creek.

One of them is on a section of trail that’s been referred to as the “lower cliff band” or “the traverse,” which is a large granite slab about three-quarters of the way up.

Hikers usually had to go up and over the rock, find some other way to scoot across the cliff face itself or go way down through the creek bed to get past this part.

Hales said crews drilled 36 holes into the rock face and used explosives to create a trail ledge about 71 feet along that cliff face, so hikers now walk on the rock itself.

Patrick Carr, Standard-Examiner

This photo taken Friday, Oct. 29, 2021, shows a rock wall constructed on the Adams Canyon trail that makes the trail less steep in one section.

Before, search and rescue teams bringing an injured hiker down through this section would need to set up a system of ropes and pulleys to get the hiker through this area, a process that would take about an hour. Now, it takes a few minutes.

Search and rescue teams welcomed the improvements wholeheartedly last year, since Adams Canyon is immensely popular and as such, is where most of the search and rescue calls come from.

Farther up the trail is a spot where there used to be sort of a steep, eroded dirt chute. Now, there’s a rock, spiral staircase that takes hikers back onto the side hill. Hales praised the crews who spent time to work on the trail, but particularly with the rock staircase.

Despite the trail improvements, there are still some issues. Forest Service crews sometimes move rocks and brush over spots that aren’t part of the trail in an effort to keep hikers on the actual trail.

One such spot was high up near the waterfall, where Hales said he’d personally moved some rocks and brush to cover a part of the creek bed that isn’t part of the trail. Those rocks and brush were cleared out of the way maybe a week after Hales had moved them there.

Another trouble spot is the bridge that crosses the creek about halfway up the trail. The bridge is slanted uphill and part of it has rotted away, but due to its size — about 15 feet — it’s going to be a difficult thing to completely fix.

The area itself has been under construction dating back to early 2020. Along with the actual trail improvements, the trailhead parking lot is completely revamped with dozens of paved parking spaces as part of the massive Highway 89 reconstruction.

There are future plans at the parking lot for bathrooms, water fountains and an informational trail kiosk as part of a joint project between the Utah Department of Transportation and Layton City Parks and Recreation.

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