Emigration Pipeline Trail (a.k.a. ``Roller Coaster'')

[Description| Distances| Map| Elevation| Alternatives| Up]


The heart of this ride, from which the name is derived, consists of consecutive big drop/climb combinations across three drainages.

The route as I have heard it described starts at the lower Shoreline trail head at the east end of the ``This is the Place'' state park (across Sunnyside Avenue from the Hogle Zoo). From there it is a modest climb along the marked tail until you intersect a utility road just outside the state park. Here you jog right and then back to the left on the dirt road. A hundred or so feet along there is a single-track branching to the right. Another few hundred feet and you join up with the Shoreline Loop Trail. Following that, meandering east, then south, then back around to the north, brings you up a final steep hill and intersects the pipeline maintenence road. Going left here takes you through the whoop-dee-doos and back to the west entrance of Shoreline Trail and completes the Shoreline Loop. Turn right to begin the roller coaster.

I must confess that I have only ever attempted the first hill and it is probably the easiest of the three. The first 200 feet aren't bad, you only drop about 30 feet as you descend over rock ridges and loose rock. Then it gets interesting. In the next 150 feet it drops 70 feet (~50% grade). The left side of the trail is bald, hard packed dirt with enough sand on top to ensure minimum traction. The right side of the trail is loose rock, ditto for traction. Down the middle is a rut which, though not big, will make you think twice about crossing. At the bottom the tail narrows to about 2 feet wide and crosses the bottom of the drainage through more loose rock. On either side there are small trees to keep you on the straight-and-narrow. At the bottom on the right there is also the pipeline itself running parallel to the trail about chest high. In short, there is ample opportunity to kill yourself if you reach the bottom out of control

The opposite side climbs at the same bodacious angle as the final part of the descent but only for 50-100 feet. After that, it is a doable sustained climb assuming you can get started in the loose rock.

Presumably, the approach here is minimal brakes and carry speed across the bottom so that you stand a chance of getting up the other side. Being a chicken-shit however, I use the brakes liberally with predictable results. To date, I have made it down only once in two serious tries, and that was in the spring when the ground was still moist and offered some amount of traction. Though under control, I had very little momentum at the bottom and made it about 10 feet up the opposite side. My other effort got me within 50 feet of the bottom before ejecting over the handlebars.

At any rate, the main trail continues east along the pipeline road through two more big dips. More to come...

Trail Distances

Miles   Elev.  Landmark                  Latitude, Longitude
 0.0    ????   ?

Route Map

From Fort Douglas Quadrangle (Utah) 7.5 minute topo map

Elevation Profile

Alternative Routes

Mike Hibler <mike@cs.utah.edu>