Draper outdoorsman is still hiking and biking at age 93Jan 11, 2021 10:49AM ● By Katherine Weinstein
Hans Lundgren, age 93, enjoys biking every day along Draper's trails, especially the Deer Ridge trail. (Photo courtesy Meg Allen)
By Katherine Weinstein | [email protected]
When people meet Hans Lundgren biking or hiking Corner Canyon trails with his dog, Max, they are often surprised to learn his age. “People are very curious about my age,” Lundgren said. “I say to them, ‘Take a guess!’”
The 93-year-old retired chemical engineer maintains a daily exercise routine that would challenge many who are decades younger. Lundgren hikes or rides his bike about a mile every day in all weather in spite of a bothersome knee. Previously he was known to take jaunts of four to five miles a day. “People say, ‘You are such an inspiration!’” Lundgren said. “They can’t believe I’m riding up here.”
Lundgren’s current ride is a Magnum electric bike but he also enjoys his classic Schwinn mountain bike. Some people, he observed, seem to get hung up on having just the right equipment before they pursue an outdoor activity. “You don’t need to have the perfect equipment to do something,” he said.
Growing up in the Swedish countryside in the 1930s, he learned to ride a bicycle “from the time I could walk,” he said. “Everyone had a bike. My parents never had a car. I had to ride a bike to school—a mile to school—even in the wintertime.” Icy conditions didn’t slow him down. “We put chains on our tires,” he explained.
A photo of Lundgren as a boy shows him with an unusual bike accessory, a small owl perched on the handlebars. “Bird watching was one of my favorite hobbies in Sweden,” he said. Lundgren rescued the owl as an orphaned hatchling, feeding and watching over it. He set the owl free when it was old enough to fend for itself, but for many months the owl would come to him when Lundgren called. “I would ride to town with the owl on my bike handlebar,” he said, smiling at the memory.
Lundgren’s deep appreciation for nature and the outdoors eventually lead him to Utah. Having emigrated to the United States in the 1950s, he settled at first on the East Coast. He accepted a job in Utah and moved his family to Salt Lake City in 1974. Initially Lundgren was uncertain about making the move, but a tram ride at Snowbird sealed the deal. “I was so moved by the beauty of this place,” he said.
Joking about having “too much of the Viking genes,” Lundgren has lead a very active life. His wife was an avid traveler and they explored the world together, even venturing to Antarctica and the North Pole.
Over the years, Lundgren has lived in various cities in Utah including St. George for a time. He has called Suncrest home for nine years. “Here I am above the inversion,” he said. “I just love it up here. I can hike right outside from my front door.”
Lundgren’s favorite trail in Draper is the Deer Ridge Trail. He also enjoys Ann’s Trail and Clark’s Trail. “I have to give Draper credit,” he said, “They are building new trails all the time and there are volunteers who help clean up. They do a nice job of maintaining the trails.”
Max, Lundgren’s dog, usually accompanies him on his daily hikes. Other times, he is joined by family members or his hiking friend, Meg Allen, from Sandy. The two met at a naturalist group outing for seniors. “He’s taken me to a lot of trails I wasn’t familiar with,” Allen said. In Draper they have hiked Potato Hill Trail, the Porter Rockwell Trail and the Bonneville Shoreline Trail to name a few. “We’re both sort of naturalists at heart,” she said.
The daughter of a geologist, Allen is a lifelong skier and shares Lundgren’s deep love for being outdoors. “The world is before us,” she said. “Sunshine and fresh air is just outside our doors.”
Neither lets age stand in the way of new adventures. “If you don’t move your body, you lose it,” Allen said. “We’re meant to move.”
“I do not let age determine what I can and cannot do,” Lundgren stated emphatically. In addition to regular exercise, he credits a healthy diet for his longevity and stamina. He maintains eating habits set in childhood; a bowl of oatmeal every morning and plenty of vegetables and fish.
Both Lundgren and Allen plan to continue to enjoy Draper’s trails and encourage others to get outside and get active. Lundgren summed it up, “You will never find a place anywhere else in this country that has what Draper has in nature.”
Draper’s trails offer outdoor recreation opportunities for all ages.
Draper has more trails and the largest open space of any other city along the Wasatch Front with 117 miles of scenic trails and 4,077 acres of open space. Trails are available for a variety of outdoor activities including hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding and dog walking.
“We’ve put in a couple of new trails,” said Bill Becker, Corner Canyon Trails Foundation executive director. The most recent example is Long View Trail, a multi-purpose trail that extends to the east side of Hog Hollow. Hoof ‘n’ Boot Trail is both an equestrian and hiking trail that runs from the Equestrian Center to the top of Corner Canyon and then down to the bottom of Hog Hollow.
Draper’s trails saw a significant increase in traffic during the warm weather months this year, but things have quieted down as the temperature has dropped. “It’s really nice,” Becker said. “You’ll see a lot of wildlife. It’s a beautiful time to go.” Wild turkeys and deer are commonly seen in Corner Canyon in the winter months in addition to many species of birds.
“It’s the best hiking you can do, very low traffic,” Becker continued. “Now’s the time to get out and enjoy the outdoors.”
For more information on Draper’s trail system, visit www.draper.ut.us/116/Trails-Open-Space or follow the Draper City Trails and Open Space page on Facebook.