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Weber County offers a lot of outdoor fun

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OGDEN — Within the boundaries of Weber County there is a big city, along with a couple of rivers, a reservoir, an island, a restored old fort, three ski resorts and a valley getaway.

Most people likely are well-aware of those. What they may not know is the extent of the recreational opportunities each has to offer.

What they know

Take, for example, the rivers — the Ogden and the Weber. There is on the Weber the state's only kayak rodeo park — a playground for kayakers, canoers and tubers.

Located at Exchange Road and 24th Street, the section of river has been designed for water-sport enthusiasts. In one section of the river, large boulders were strategically placed to create channels, drops and pools.

Kayakers are able to play in the pools, doing cartwheels, bow stalls, flat-water loops and stern stalls. Below the constructed course is still water where those new to the sport can paddle and practice. Tubers can float from the mouth of Weber Canyon for several miles, down to and past the park.

The Ogden and Weber rivers also offer some of the state's best stream fishing.

Near the river is Fort Buenaventura, 2450 A Ave., once a state park but now run by the city of Ogden. The fort was the first permanent Anglo settlement in the Great Basin, back in the 1840s. The reconstructed fort includes a stockade, replicas of old cabins, camping areas and a pond.

A few years back the city of Roy opened its Aquatic Center, with two water slides, one a high-speed slide that is nearly vertical, and a padded wading pool with water features for kids.

Pineview Reservoir is east of Ogden and has become a center for summer water sports, including wakeboarding, water skiing, boating and swimming.

What few may realize is this is one of the few places in the state were anglers can try for the large tiger musky. The record, taken from the lake in 2001, is 31 pounds 4 ounces.

Because of its location, at the base of the Wasatch Mountains, the county has become well-known for activities like mountain biking, hiking and horseback riding.

The north-south-running Bonneville Shoreline Trail is the main jumping-off point for a number of trails that lead into higher country. The trail follows the shoreline of the ancient lake.

There are a number of popular road rides, including over Trappers Loop between Mountain Green, Morgan County, and Pineview. This one involves some steep climbs — 1,000 feet in a four-mile stretch — and is rated for intermediate and above riders.

The Huntsville Monastery ride involves very little climbing but navigates through some scenic agricultural areas to the Abbey of the Holy Trinity Trappist Monastery, which offers tours and a selection of different homemade honeys.

The county is also a well-known stop for Utah's golfing community.

Shelliece Stokes, director of tourism, is not sure everyone knows just how many golf courses are available.

"In fact, there are 11 courses, some public and some private, within the county. If you expand outside the county, there are 19 within a half-hour's drive of Ogden."

What many don't know

Along the Ogden River is a parkway with paved path, complete with pullouts and benches for people to sit, relax and enjoy the sights and sounds of moving water. The walkway passes under two major roads in Ogden — Harrison and Washington boulevards — both popular spots with anglers.

"This is a very popular trail with both bikers and families taking walks," Stokes said. "There's also a very nice skateboard park along the path. It's a popular place to sit and watch. It's amazing what some of those in the skate park can do."

The park trail also passes by the Eccles Dinosaur Park, which features life-size replicas of early inhabitants of Utah.

Snowbasin ski area, east of Ogden, is well-known for its contributions to winter activities, which included being the host site for three of the 2002 Olympic events — downhill, super G and combined. Not so well-known is what it has to offer in the summer.

The resort is one of seven in Utah that offers lift-served hiking and biking. Hikers and bikers have the advantage of riding up the mountain slopes on a chair lift and then walking or coasting back down to the base, where they are able to sit in the comfort of a beautiful lodge and sip a soft drink or munch on a sandwich.

The resort is also featuring disc or Frisbee golf. Players negotiate a mountain course with "holes" set at different distances and layouts, terminating at a pole instead of a hole.

The valley to the north of Pineview Reservoir is the resort community of Wolf Creek, which over the years has developed into a recreational playground.

Its championships 18-hole golf course, which recently hosted the Utah Amateur, is in the foothills below Powder Mountain. This course is noted for having two different and distinct nines. The front nine is open, while the back nine requires more thought into the placement of each shot.

From the Wolf Creek area, hikers, bikers and horse riders have access to more than 250 miles of trails.

Not so well-known, said Barbara McConvill of the marketing and sales staff, are the trails open for ATV riders, which include the Monte Cristo Trail System and the Skyline Trail. The 9-mile road known as Avon Pass is open to ATVs and is recognized as one of the more scenic in Utah. It begins at an elevation of 5,200 feet and ends at 6,000.

The area is also being discovered by people who enjoy riding horses in the scenic and seasonally cooler conditions there in the summer.

One of the premier events at Wolf Creek will be the 2005 Balloon Festival, Aug. 19-21.

"We scheduled it at this time," said McConvill, "because this is a time when the valley is at its best. Also, this is a time when the balloons are able to fly at night because of the still winds. Seeing the balloons fly during the day is spectacular, but it's even more so at night."

Because of the ban on motorized boats on Causey Reservoir, it has become an ideal location for open-water kayaking.

The Ogden Bay Bird Refuge, which sits on the shores of the Great Salt Lake, is one of Utah's best waterfowl and bird-watching areas, mainly because of easy accessibility. Take the Roy exit off I-15 and head west. Where the road ends, make a sharp right, and a short distance away is the entrance to the refuge.

One of the advantages this county has, of course, is location. Recreational activities are within easy driving distance of those living along the Wasatch Front.

NEXT WEEK: Davis County

E-mail: grass@desnews.com