The Farmington-Bountiful Gravel Loop offers some paved road, but much of the climb is gravel or hardpack. The steep initial climb typically starts at the B near of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. More or less there’s one large climb to the top, then a descent that largely follows Farmington Creek. The descent ends at the north end of Farmington, with the option to take the BST/dirt roads along the base of the canyon back to the start. This ride offers excellent views of the Great Salt Lake and is one of the best overall rides in the area, perfect for a bike that can confidently handle all types of roads. This ride also connects riders to Francis Peak, which offers not only 9700 feet in elevation but two very unique white domes, which provide radar for airplanes landing at SLC Airport.
Starting from the parking lot, take the ascending road away from the Bonneville Shoreline Trail (on maps as Ward Canyon Road) toward the Bountiful B. The first two miles or so offer about a ten percent grade, then it levels out to about five or six. About eight miles in, you’ll come across a fork. Take a left, as the right takes you back toward Big Mountain. Take a right at the second fork about nine miles in. Mile twelve takes you to Bountiful Peak. Mile sixteen takes you back down Skyline Drive. Take the road down to about mile twenty three and hang a left. This takes you back to the start. This side is a bit rockier but completely doable on a bike with 35c slick tires.
Toward the peak of the loop at about mile sixteen, there’s a point where riders can cross Farmington Creek, marked by a gate. Hang a right there for an additional ten miles there and back to Francis Peak. After this is one more climb, followed by a gorgeous, fast descent. Just make sure to watch for cars rushing up the trail.
Contender to Farmington Bay (GPX/TCX file and Ride with GPS map found HERE)
More Farmington? What?! Yeah, and its because there is a combination of great dirt out there while being in close proximity. Most dirt riding in the Salt Lake City area requires a fair bit of climbing into the mountains and riding singletrack. Not so with this ride. It is flat as can be, with only 1,000 feet of climbing in the entire ride. You *could* certainly add elevation if you’d like by adding the Bonneville Shoreline Trail or riding up to the antennas while heading north.
From Contender, ride toward Memory Grove Park and north on Beck street to North Salt Lake’s West Center Street. Note that you can certainly ride to 900 West and avoid the choppy road that is Beck Street, but Beck Street makes the ride more of a loop. Take Center Street to just past the Legacy highway overpass, where just after you’ll take your first street on the right. Enjoy the first stretch of dirt!
Take this dirt road to Frontage Road, where you’ll link back up to asphalt right until you find Bountiful Pond on your left side. Here, you’ll encounter your main stretch of non-asphalt: Farmington Bay. You’ll follow the map around Farmington Bay to your first right turn, which takes you to the second bit of Farmington Bay as well as the Buffalo Ranch Trail. Take that loop around and back to the main part of the bay. The roads are well-marked but having some sort of map – either a cycling computer or a smartphone – is recommended.
Riding back to SLC includes riding back through the dirt segment of Legacy Parkway and the dirt road that is 3200 West. From here, take side streets through Rose Park and back to Contender Bicycles. My recommendation is to stop by Chunga’s on 900 West for a post-ride meal.
Being a wildlife refuge, Farmington Bay is closed from March 1st to July 31st for mating season. Note also that like most roads around here there isn’t a lot of tree canopy to be had. This means that it is best if you avoid the heat. But doing so nets you a ride with little auto traffic and plenty of wildlife.