The Corner Canyon Trail Network Is Among Utah’s Best

Utah is well known to the cycling world. Moab has long been considered a premier mountain bike destination. The Tour of Utah is one of the biggest cycling events held in the U.S. In 2008, the International Mountain Bicycling Association (I.M.B.A.) recognized Park City as a Gold-Level Ride Center. People come from all over the world to ride bikes in Utah, and the City of Draper is positioning itself to boast one of the best trail networks in Utah.

Jamie and Whitney Pogue have lived in Draper since 2002. They take their kids on the paved trails behind their neighborhood, and they both coach the Corner Canyon High School cycling team, with Whitney serving as head coach. Jamie also serves as the chairman of the trails committee for the City of Draper, and he says the benefits of local trails go beyond measure.

“I suppose they increase home values and they bring people to the area, but having these trails in our back yard is so much more than that,” Jamie says.

Economic impact studies continue to show the positive impact that trails have on local economies. Nadia Kaliszewski’s 2011 Economic Impact Study of the Jackson Hole Trails Project estimated that the area’s trails generate more than $18 million for the local economy each year, with the trail system costing only $1.7 million over the course of the previous decade. When Colorado’s Department of Transportation commissioned an economic impact study for bicycling and walking, it found that bicycling brings more than $1 billion to the Colorado state economy. The National Bicycle Dealers Association estimated in 2009 that the U.S. bicycle industry as a whole is a $5.6 billion industry. In short, bikes are big business, and those who bike have discretionary incomes and travel with their bike in order to ride. Yet for Jamie and Whitney, the impact of their work goes beyond the dollars.

“The Corner Canyon High School cycling team had 75 riders in 2013,” Jamie says. “In 2014, we grew to a team of 107 riders. It’s the biggest team in the U.S.”

The National Interscholastic Cycling Association (N.I.C.A.) began in Northern California in 2009, according to its website. Since then, N.I.C.A. has grown to include 15 leagues, often designated by state. According to the Utah league website, it started in 2012 with a record number of participants: 28 teams totaling 321 participants. Also according to the site, each year has seen record growth, with 67 percent growth in 2014, a N.I.C.A. record for participation growth. Whitney adds, “The league is expecting in excess of 1500 riders this 2015 season.”

Not only are the high school teams the biggest in the country, but the development programs in the middle schools also show record numbers. For Jamie and Whitney Pogue, these participation numbers are not only about putting kids on bikes, they also create a future generation of responsible trail users.

“We teach the kids on our team about trail etiquette,” Jamie says. “And we require that they do service and trail projects to give back to the trails. And the other coaches do this with their teams. We take safety and courtesy very seriously.”

The stress on courtesy goes beyond the coaching. In a 2012 Trails Committee PowerPoint presentation, the committee identified courtesy as the number one solution to mitigate user conflicts on the trails.

“User conflict in inevitable,” Jamie says. “We are unique here because people know who to complain to, so we hear about all the complaints. And that’s a good thing. We’ve seen a huge increase in the use of our trails, but the complaints have not increased. That tells me we’re doing something right.”

Corner Canyon includes more than 53 miles of soft surface trails, according to the same PowerPoint presentation, and it continues to grow every year. The inevitable user conflicts that come with increased activity is the most difficult part of managing growth.

“We take a multi-pronged approach,” Jamie says. “Sometimes it’s user-specific trails, sometimes it’s one-way trails, sometimes it’s trail design, sometimes it’s signage, but a lot of it comes down to education and people being courteous.”

With the continued use of a multi-pronged approach to keep user conflicts at a minimum, the city is also expanding its trail network.

“The city of Draper purchased a large chunk of land on the south side Traverse Ridge Road,” Jamie says. “We are in the process of creating a master plan for the area with a mix if multi-use and user-specific trails. By this time next year, we should be breaking ground for new trails to be useable by the summer.”

I.M.B.A.’s Trail Ambassador, Joey Klein, has consulted with the City of Draper on many occasions. Klein has built trails in consultation with municipalities around the world, and according to Jamie, Klein feels there is something unique in the south end of the Salt Lake Valley.

“Joey says that our city’s cooperation among land managers and trail users is unlike anywhere else in the world,” Jamie says of Klein. “Our vision and our cooperation among a diverse group of trail users, Joey says he doesn’t see that kind of work happen. We have a great group of people who are committed to keeping the trails multi-use. We want the trails to be open to everyone. We’ve got something special here.”

Photos taken in Maple Hollow of members of the Corner Canyon High School team.