Path rating: **
Scenic rating: ***
Mill Creek Canyon: This trail follows an old water flume and is a delightful ride that offers a great retreat from the urbanization of the Salt Lake Valley. Since its elevation is so low, the trail can be used from April to November. The trail, however, can be crowded — especially on weekends and holidays.
Distance: 14.4 miles for the regular ride or 16.4 miles with an extra spur. (If you ride out of the canyon along the paved road, it's a 12-mile round-trip effort.)
Elevation gain: About 1,300 feet.
Difficulty: Easy to moderate.
Directions to the trailhead: The Mill Creek Canyon road begins near 3800 South and Wasatch Boulevard. Take the No. 3 exit on I-215 east going southbound or the No. 4 exit if coming from the north. Travel on Wasatch Boulevard to 3800 South and take a right into the canyon. There is an entrance station about a half mile up the canyon, and the lower trailhead access — Rattlesnake Gulch — is about 1,000 yards beyond that. The upper trailhead — Elbow Fork — is five miles past the gulch.
Trail description: This is a good dirt trail with some gravel, though it is only wide enough for a single track. There are also a few narrow, steep slopes with hairpin turns.
Hazards: Some of the trail is open to the sun, and it can be hot in summer. Because the trail is so narrow, caution is advised — especially watch for bikers coming west down the hill toward Rattlesnake Gulch. A few of the steep slopes may be uncomfortable for those afraid of heights. The trail has one unusual hazard — remnants of the old water pipeline may puncture a tire, so be prepared with the proper repair equipment.
Highlights: The trail offers great views of Mill Creek Canyon and sections of the Salt Lake Valley.
Other information: There's no drinking water along the trail, but some picnic areas in the canyon — Terraces, Church Fork and Maple Grove — have summer water taps and pit toilets.
The pipeline trail was revamped in 1996 to make it bicycle-friendly. Users can thank the Salt Lake Ranger District and the Utah Mountain Bike Association for their efforts there.
Fees: There is a $2.25 charge to each vehicle leaving Mill Creek Canyon. A season pass costs $22.
More information: Contact the Salt Lake Ranger District, 943-1794, or consult "Mountain Biking Utah," a Falcon Guide, by Gregg Bromka.