New hiking-only trails in place; plans for all-abilities playground are in the worksNov 08, 2021 02:38PM ● By Mimi Darley Dutton
Hidden Meadows Loop, one of three newly established, foot-only trails. (Photo courtesy Draper City)
By Mimi Darley Dutton | [email protected]
Draper’s Parks and Recreation Department completed three new, foot-only trails before summer’s end that are open and ready for fall and winter hiking. The department is now working toward installing an all-abilities playground by next summer, giving Draper the tallest slide in Utah and new equipment that’s accessible to all.
With the increase in trails usage in Corner Canyon during the pandemic, requests for more foot-only trails have been on the rise so that hikers don’t have to worry about mountain bikers. As a result, August brought the opening of three new designated hiking loops that begin and end at a common trailhead or parking lot:
- Telegraph Foot Path Loop: Starts and ends at Deer Ridge Drive by Maple Hollow Trailhead in SunCrest. This loop is 3.7 miles long and moderate on the difficulty scale. It offers views of Utah Lake, Mount Timpanogos and Lone Peak. “It’s the most rural (of the new trails) and very scenic to get that feeling of getting away from everything,” said Rhett Ogden, Parks and Recreation director. Telegraph is the only one of the three new trails that doesn’t have a designated trailhead with restrooms and parking, but you can use Maple Hollow Trailhead for those amenities. It is the only of the three new trails that allows dogs.
- Hidden Meadows Foot Path Loop: Named for the “hidden meadows” you’ll see along the way, this easy hike is 2.2 miles long. In addition to meadows, it also takes hikers through “tree tunnels” where the trail is cut through trees. “It’s probably my favorite of the three (new trails) because it starts and ends at Peak View Trailhead at the top of Corner Canyon and it’s very easy for families and kids. It is gorgeous, amazing and very easy to finish,” Ogden said. Because it starts and ends at an established trailhead, it has 50 paved parking stalls and restrooms with toilets and running water.
- Coyote Foot Path Loop: In the heart of Corner Canyon, beginning and ending at the new Coyote Hollow Trailhead, this trail is 1.2 miles long and easy. It has paved parking, restrooms with toilets and running water, and drinking fountains. “That was quite a feat but we made it work,” Ogden said. The trailhead offers parking spaces designated for hikers only, making it more likely that you’ll find parking. “If you have little kids or don’t want a hard hike, this is great because it’s short and shady,” Ogden said. The trail has some attractions including a pit where they used to mine Silica. There’s also an option to add a quarter mile to that hike by including the Burnham Creek Loop which takes you past a creek and offers views of wildlife along with a nice overlook.
The end of summer doesn’t mean the new paths can’t be used, but as with any trails, the city doesn’t allow them to be used if they’re muddy so as to avoid damaging the trails. “If it’s sticking to your wheels or your heels, it’s too muddy,” Ogden said. Once the snow is packed down, it’s fine to use them because the ground beneath is frozen, so the three new loops could be used in winter.
Plans for an all-abilities park were approved by the city council in September, a project for which funding has already been secured. The all-abilities equipment will replace the existing playground equipment at Draper Park which is now 18 years old. The city is working on the project with Big T Recreation, a large playground equipment distributor headquartered in
Draper. “He’s one of the leading playground distributors in the western U.S. He says this will be trendsetting. According to him, it’s the way all playgrounds should be,” Ogden said.
Ogden secured a $550,000 grant for the all-abilities equipment from Salt Lake County and the city has budgeted for the remaining costs, expected to total somewhere between $1 million to $1.3 million. “To our mayor and council’s credit, they wanted an all-abilities playground. So now we’ll have the coolest playground in the state of Utah in my opinion. We basically doubled what we were planning to do at Draper Park to make this very inclusive. We worked with local residents who have children with disabilities on attractions they’d like to see,” Ogden said.
The new equipment will have three ziplines, some designed for people with disabilities. “It really will be a destination playground for all abilities…like you haven’t seen in any other park. It will be three stories tall. One of the neat things we’ve tried to do, especially for anyone that’s in a mobility device, they love to be up in the air since most of their life is spent at ground level. This playground is ramped to the second tier and we’ve tried to bring some of the play value with different implements on the second level. It will have all sorts of slides, play value features (cognitive and sensory), mazes, climbing structures, ziplines and a rope pyramid. It will be awesome for everybody,” he said.
The swing set at Draper Park will remain as will some of the toddler and typical belt swings on it, but some of the seat configurations will be converted to be more inclusive. The sand volleyball court at Draper Park, which is rarely used, will be replaced with a 25- to 30-foot tall climbing pyramid. The city is also working with a manufacturer out of England in hopes of bringing in an inclusive merry-go-round.
“Whatever abilities you have, you can find something to do that’s fun. It will also be the tallest playground slide in Utah—34 feet,” Ogden said.