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Ogden Canyon Trail to be extended east to waterfall

By Tim Vandenack - | Sep 18, 2022

Tim Vandenack, Standard-Examiner

The eastern endpoint of the Ogden Canyon Trail is photographed on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022. Plans are afoot to extend the trail east of the endpoint across the Ogden River to a pulloff area on the north side of State Route 39, a popular point to see the waterfall cascading down the mountain.

OGDEN -- Plans are in the works to extend the Ogden Canyon Trail beyond its current eastern endpoint to the waterfall just to the east at the mouth of the canyon, according to Ogden and Utah Department of Transportation officials.

At the same time, the wide shoulder off the north side of the road, State Route 39, would be narrowed to keep people from parking vehicles there. Motorists frequently stop at the spot to view the waterfall, which cascades down the mountainside off the north side of S.R. 39, also known as Canyon Road.

"There's a lot of liability in the pull-off. ... Pull-offs are dangerous in the canyon," said Jay Lowder, director of the Ogden Public Services Department. Instead, those wanting to view the waterfall, he said, will be able to get a closeup via the trail extension in the works, accessing the path about a quarter of a mile to the west at the Ogden Canyon Trail trailhead near the intersection with Valley Drive.

UDOT, working with the city of Ogden, commissioned an engineering study to come up with plan details, currently in the works. Additionally, $3 million has been earmarked to handle the work, according to department spokesman Mitch Shaw. UDOT expects to advertise for bids for the construction sometime in 2023.

"We think most of the money will be tied up in designing and building the structure, but if there is money left over, the trail would also be extended some to the east. How much, we don't know yet," Shaw said.

Image supplied, Google Maps/Maxar Technologies/State of Utah/U.S. Geological Survey

The map shows the portion of State Route 39 in eastern Ogden where a new section is to be added to the Ogden Canyon Trail. The new section is shown by the blue-dotted line and goes from the current trail endpoint east across the Ogden River to a pulloff area on the north side of S.R. 39, where motorists stop to view the adjacent waterfall. A maintenance road just east of that across the river is to be upgraded as part of the plans. The pulloff area would be eliminated to make way for the new trail section and visitors wanting to see the waterfall up close would have to access it via the Ogden Canyon Trail, using the trailhead to the west near the S.R. 39 intersection with Valley Drive.

The $3 million is meant to extend the Ogden Canyon Trail east over the Ogden River past its current endpoint to the S.R. 39 roadside pull-off area, which will be converted into part of the trail. The trail will continue just east to an aging maintenance bridge that then crosses back over the Ogden River to the north side of the waterway. That maintenance bridge is also to be upgraded as part of the project, a key element of the plans that's tied to the broader goal of replacing the waterline that runs east for much of the length of the canyon.

"This project will extend the existing shared-use path into the canyon by constructing a new pedestrian bridge and either replacing or rehabilitating an existing maintenance access bridge over the Ogden River and extending the grading for the path along the north side of the river," reads the UDOT request for proposals for the engineering study, issued last March. Grading for the path east of the maintenance bridge into the canyon will be completed "as far as funding will allow."

Recreation is a key component of the proposal, but Lowder put a big focus on the waterline project. Rehabbing or replacing the maintenance bridge will allow construction vehicles and equipment to cross the river to access the bulk of the 36-inch waterline so it can be replaced.

"We don't trust (the bridge) now," Lowder said.

The waterline project has an estimated cost of $80 million, a price tag that also includes replacement of other connecting waterlines. The 36-inch line, which runs mostly on the north side of the Ogden River through the canyon, hauls treated drinking water to Ogden from Pineview Reservoir.

Tim Vandenack, Standard-Examiner

The eastern endpoint of the Ogden Canyon Trail is photographed on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022. Plans are afoot to extend the trail east of the endpoint across the Ogden River to a pulloff area on the north side of State Route 39, a popular point to see the waterfall cascading down the mountain.

"It's getting to be a very old line that has some serious issues," Lowder said. The city hopes to tap federal, state and local funding to complete the project within the next five years.

Wall Consulting Group is handling the engineering study and started its work in August.

The eastern endpoint of the Ogden Canyon Trail is photographed on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022. Plans are afoot to extend the trail east of the endpoint across the Ogden River to a pulloff area on the north side of State Route 39, a popular point to see the waterfall cascading down the mountain.

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