In 2000, Weber Pathways purchased the Rail Trail corridor in northwest Weber County, and soon after opened the Weber Pathways Rail Trail. This trail starts at the County Line Trailhead (on 4000 North, about 1 mile west of the Smith and Edwards store) and extends for about 8.5 miles to the southwest and 1.5 miles to the northeast. The Harold Crane Trailhead also provides access to the trail and is located on the north end of 6700 West.
Weber Pathways is continuing to make improvements to the Rail Trail. The County Line Trailhead has been fenced and gravel put down to improve the parking area, new signage has been added, trees have been planted, and fencing and gates have been installed to restrict motorized travel on the trail. Brush has been cut back where it was blocking the pathway, and loose rock has been removed from over a mile of the trail surface. This spring, we plan to install decking and side rails on the Willard Canal bridge, to make it safer for trail use and open up the trail extending north into Box Elder County.
The Weber Pathways Rail Trail began its life as the Little Mountain Branch Railroad, built by the Union Pacific in 1971 to compete with the Southern Pacific hauling salt and other minerals from the Great Salt Lake. After the UP-SP merger, the line became redundant, and Weber Pathways purchased the railroad corridor to save it for trail use, preserving 231 acres of wildlife habitat in the bargain. The trail, dedicated June 1, 2002, is Utah’s second “Rails-to-Trails” conversion (the first is near Park City). This project has been made possible by major funding from the Dumke Foundations, the George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation, the Diana S. Ellis Foundation, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Pacificorp, the Ralph Nye Charitable Foundation, and the Harris Family Foundation.
This trail doesn’t offer any mountain slopes or alpine forests, just miles of level, easy riding and a panoramic vista of the Wasatch Range rising above the wetlands and farmlands. Other things to see include the old railroad mile markers and warning symbols, plus a seasonal abundance of wildlife, including ducks, geese, white pelicans, black-necked stilts, American avocets, white-faced ibis, and yellow-headed blackbirds. You’ll enjoy this trail best in the cooler months or early in the morning. Don’t forget the insect repellent! The last 3 miles of the trail, west of 6700 West, are closed from March 1 to September 1 to protect the bird nesting habitat.
In 2012, Weber Pathways purchased an additional 7.57 acres of land that extended the existing Weber Pathways Rail Trail another 2/3 mile. The original purchase in 2000 resulted in 231 acres of protected open space and a 10-mile trail between the two Counties. This latest purchase secures the final piece of abandoned rail property and pushes the trail to a few feet west of US-89 just north of the Weber County line. The cost of this latest land acquisition was just over $45,000.
The Weber Pathways Rail Trail can be accessed from two trailheads—the County Line Trailhead (on 4000 North, about 1 mile west of the Smith and Edwards store, and The Harold Crane Trailhead (located on the north end of 6700 West). The trail offers wonderful views of the Wasatch Mountains to the east and the Promontory Mountains to the west.
Box Elder County is now working on the sections of trail within their boundaries. They are working with Weber Pathways to open up over two miles of trail north of the County Line Trailhead. Box Elder County is using their own funds along with those from Weber Pathways and a grant from the State’s Recreational Trails Program.
Weber Pathways’ long range vision is to link up the Rail Trail with the Bonneville Shoreline Trail North.