Hiking, running, exploring, hunting, backcountry skiing. It’s difficult to think of any outdoor sports that are not more enjoyable with dogs. After about fourteen years of mostly hiking and running with dogs, we have collectively decided on our favorite spots:
The Wild West still lives in Utah, and it is found on Stansbury Island. Not for the faint of heart, there are a lot of “hunters” blasting away at homemade targets out here. There is also a smell. Brine shrimp? Sewage? Possibly Magcorp? Not sure. Maybe it’s all three, but there is a smelly funk in the air. Still, jack rabbits abound, and although the area feels like a post-apocalyptic wasteland, it’s fun to witness the vastness of open space. Dogs absolutely love this place and it’s a joy to watch them run here, especially in the middle of winter where ice and salt and brine shrimp make for a stunning visual display.
In the same west desert vicinity of Stansbury Island is a little place called Delle. It’s full of jackrabbits, scrub brush, and sometimes sage grouse, and it doesn’t smell like Stansbury. Dogs need to leap over brush, and while they have almost no chance of catching the wascally wabbits, it’s fun to watch them try.
The Jordan River Parkway Trail
The Jordan River’s riverbank mud is really smelly if it gets on your dog’s paws and coat, so the best way to enjoy this amazingly beautiful trail is to keep your dogs on leash. The area is a sanctuary for ducks, raptors, storks and large geese. Once we came around a bend and heard a loud “thud.” We witnessed a large beaver showing his strength then swimming away. Dogs can greatly stress wildlife, so as tempting as it is, leave dogs on leash around the river. The parks such as the International Peace Garden (at around 800 South) and a dog park at around 1400 south offer areas where well-trained dogs can run off leash.
The Pipeline Trail
Millcreek Canyon has been discovered by dog lovers. This is both good and bad, but certainly bad for the trees and wildlife. The trails are getting torn up, widened and eroded, so we need to keep our dogs on leash more often. The first turnoff up Millcreek is Rattlesnake Trailhead. This steep trail leads directly to the Pipeline Trail, which basically parallels the canyon road far below. Besides being one of the best dog trails, the Pipeline Trail is also one of the very best in Utah for trail running. It is relatively flat with scrub oak surrounding the trail. Rivers intersect at various points, and it offers diverse ecology for many miles. It makes for an amazing day hike or run. Dogs are allowed off leash on even numbered days only.
The Sugar House Urban Rivers Loop
As an avid runner, I’m surprised how few runners and dog owners take advantage of an amazing loop the Sugar House area offers. We can’t always make it to the mountains, and this loop offers river trails most of the way, short off-leash opportunities, and the opportunity to run up to 12 miles, only crossing busy roads twice. Here’s how to do it:
Past the Westminster ravine, we get a short look at Emigration Creek. Follow the creek through the Sugar House neighborhood to 1700 South. Continue to 2100 South and along 2100 East, then loop around and go west to Highland High. South of the school, connect with the section of Parley’s Creek that travels through Sugar House Park. Follow the creek, and if there are no ducks or geese, give the dogs a bit of off-leash time. Travel under 1300 East via the Sego Lily and through Hidden Hollow (still following the creek). After crossing Highland Drive, end up at Fairmont Park, where there is an off-leash dog park. Go west through the park, then jog north a block and connect with the S-Line trail which can take you down to 300 East before entering downtown.
How could I not mention Tanner Park?
Every dog owner knows that the largest and best dog park is Tanner Park. It’s quite wonderful. Parley’s Creek bisects the park and there is a playground near the end of the trail. Although it can be quite crowded, it’s a mainstay, and your dog will thank you.