The Mountain Trails Foundation is proud to be the managing entity for the Summit County Historic Union Pacific Rail Trail State Park (click to visit official Rail Trail website).
Opened to the public as a State Park in 1992, the Rail Trail starts at 6,900’ in elevation, near Park City, and falls, over the course of 277 miles, to 5,280’ elevation at the eastern end.
At only about 10’ wide (easement actually 200′ wide in most places), this is one of the State’s most unique parks. Closest to Park City, the trail is paved for approximately 3 miles. Thereafter, heading east, the trail is smooth, wide road-base. The Rail Trail rambles through wetland meadows in Silver Creek Canyon, heads out to the towns of Wanship and Coalville and then follows the Weber River all the way to Echo Reservoir. Offering a taste of the cultural history, ecological diversity and recreational access that defines Summit County, the Rail Trail is suitable for biking, walking, running, cross-country skiing, horseback riding and fishing.
Rail Trail – A History
Utah’s first rail trail began when the Coalville-Echo Railroad Company was being organized to transport coal five miles from the Coalville mines to the Union Pacific line at Echo. Due to a shortage of railroad track, those plans were abandoned. Increasing demand for coal prompted citizens to reorganize in 1871 as the Summit County Railroad Company. By 1873, coal was moving from Coalville to the Wasatch Front on a narrow-gauge track. Meanwhile, silver was discovered in the mountains of Park City. Coal was needed to fuel the pumps that removed water from underground mines. Utah Eastern Railroad was organized in 1879 to build a narrow-gauge line between Coallville and Park City. Union Pacific Railroad began constructing a broad-gauge spur line, Echo-Park City Railway. Both lines were completed in 1880.
In 1989, Union Pacific abandoned the railroad line. The railroad, along with the Division of Parks and Recreation and A&K Railroad Materials, launched plans to turn the abandoned railroad corridor into a non-motorized recreational trail. The Historic Union Pacific Rail Trail State Park was dedicated in 1992 and is the first non-motorized rail trail in Utah.