What We’re Doing
Working with landowners and public agencies to secure swaths of private land along the entire 300-mile trail corridor
Connect everyone who lives in or visits Utah to the outdoors.
More than 30,000 years ago, a lake roughly the size of Lake Superior covered most of present-day Salt Lake City as well as parts of Nevada and Idaho.
When a natural dam collapsed about 14,500 years ago, the resulting megaflood created geological features that remain today, including deep canyons, expansive salt flats, scablands, gravel deposits, and unique rock formations.
Known today as Lake Bonneville, the prehistoric inland ocean is now dry, but it has created a lasting impact on the region’s geography and quality of life. It is home to Salt Lake City and to 80 percent of Utah’s population who—along with millions of annual visitors—escape here to connect with the outdoors.
The vision for the nearly 300-mile Bonneville Shoreline Trail (BST)—100 miles of which are complete—originated in the 1990s. With a housing boom underway, residents watched in alarm as development crept into the canyons above the city. They knew they had to move fast to combat sprawl and protect their quality of life. “It’s now or never along the Wasatch Front,” said a Trust for Public Land staffer at the time. “Once these canyons are subdivided, public access to the mountains will be gone.”
Since 1991, outdoor enthusiasts have dreamed about protecting this geological gem. Community members, TPL, and other partners have protected many acres of land in the foothills of the Wasatch Range. TPL has led efforts to expand and protect the trail by restoring 25 parcels along the BST corridor. More than a quarter of TPL projects in Utah involve land along the BST.
The BST currently encompasses over 100 miles of mixed-use trails and recreational opportunities, from mountain biking, running, or hiking to horseback riding or cross-country skiing. Our goal is to complete the nearly 300-mile trail stretching from northern Utah to the heart of the state.
Since that first scramble to ensure public access, we’ve partnered with local government and conservation groups to protect nearly 2,000 acres of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail.
But this corridor is more than fun and games. Scientists lean into BST’s history to better understand the effects of climate change. The prehistoric lake data illustrates how wetness in the Great Basin transformed due to changing temperatures.
With your support and help from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, we’re working to extend the trail, add access points, and safeguard critical surrounding open space.
When completed, the trail will connect the largest communities in the state to Utah’s beautiful landscape and to the joy and benefits it provides.