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Bike trail of the week: Skyline Drive
Scenic backway is strenuous — but worth the work

FARMINGTON CANYON is called "Skyline Drive," a scenic backway that follows a narrow, winding dirt road to the top of the Wasatch Mountains.

The road is maintained primarily by the Federal Aviation Administration and is actually smoother in its upper reaches.Snow lingers into late July along the mountain skyline, and snowdrifts left from winter plowing can still be found in early July near the radar towers.

Spectacular views of Davis and Morgan counties can be seen along the tops of this road. Plenty of trucks, cars and motorcycles use this roadway, but there are less on weekdays.

Trail rating: **

Scenic rating: *****

Distance: Eight miles to the junction and FAA gate near the top of Farmington Canyon. From there, it is four miles north to the radar towers or 19 miles south to Bountiful.

Elevation gain: 5,000 feet to the radar domes.

Difficulty: Strenuous.

Time required: About two to three hours, up. Much less on the downhill return.

Directions to reach the trailhead: Take I-15 or U.S. 89 to Farmington and go one block east of Main to 100 East. Follow 100 East north, and it curves up into the canyon.

Trail description: The first one mile of the road is very steep but paved. Dirt begins as the switchbacks up the mountain commence.

Cost/charges: None.

Cautions: Watch for cars and trucks using the road. Good brakes on your bike will also be required. A mountain bike or a good lower gear will also be helpful.

While the north section of road to the radar towers is open early in the season, the south section to Bountiful may not be clear of snow until late June, since it is not plowed.

It can windy and cool in the road's upper reaches, though hot at the bottom. Have extra clothing.

Tidbits: The radar domes top out at 9,630 feet above sea level. They provide long-range radar coverage for aircraft within a 300-mile radius. Some hang gliders like to launch from near the radar domes.

Highlights: The bird's-eye views from near the radar towers are well worth it. A longer bike ride, available only from late July to September, goes north past the radar towers along a jeep road to the Smiths Creek Lakes.

Camping: Available at the Bountiful Peak Forest Service Campground, 7,500-foot elevation. This is found a half-mile south of the FAA gate junction along the Bountiful section of the road. Picnic tables and restrooms are found at Sunset, 6,200-foot elevation and some five miles up the canyon.

Water: None available in early summer from the campgrounds.

For more information: Contact the U.S. Forest Service office, 943-1794.