by TJ Bosworth, Utah Crew
Time and time again, the question is asked: Where can I off-road near Salt Lake City? For those of you that have been in Salt Lake City long enough, these trail names are household phrases. There are more trails than you may think located just a short drive away from the valley. Difficulty can range anywhere from flyin’ down a dirt road to buggy obstacles. Scenery has just as wide of a range, as well. Whether you are in for the extreme moments or the endless views, here are the top picks for 4wd trails near Salt Lake City.
Fivemile Pass – All Year
For the thrill seeker, you’ll want to try out The Snakes located out by the Fivemile Pass Recreation Area.
Just about an hour drive away from the valley, this trail system has some roads to suit anybody. A parking lot at the trailhead leaves room for towed vehicles as well. The common trails in this system include Rattlesnake, Constrictor, Sidewinder, and Bullsnake, with other options like The Climb and the Sidewinder Exit Trail.
Rattlesnake and Constrictor are the common “moderate” route until you reach Eagles Nest, which is only completed by seasoned wheelers. Sidewinder and its exit trail are for the more experienced as well, while Bullsnake and The Climb can be done in less modified rigs. Also, nearby is the famous Pony Express, a mild dirt road with incredible history. These trails are all open year-round, however, they can become next to impossible with any snow on the ground.
Little Moab/Tintic Mountains – All Year
Just south of Fivemile Recreation Area lies another popular playground called Little Moab. In these hills, west of Utah Lake, sits a random crop of rock resembling the iconic slick rock found in Moab.
A short distance from Little Moab is another playground called The Great Wall. Both of these areas allow drivers to test their rigs at their own accord. This is a great place to come if you are looking to see what your vehicle is capable of without trekking hours away from home.
Aside from Little Moab and The Great Wall, Allen’s Ranch Road, Broad Canyon, and Black Rock Canyon will take you a bit further towards the Tintic Mountain Range, home to a large number of trails. Or, you can head south to drive through the famous Elberta Tunnel! All of the areas listed above are open throughout the year and can provide some good snow wheeling opportunities.
American Fork Canyon – Seasonal
In another area, forest roads cut through lush vegetation providing breathtaking views of valleys below. American Fork Canyon is open only about half of the year but well worth the short trip. It is home to Lower Mill Canyon, Forest Lake, Mary Ellen Gulch, Baker Fork Road, Miller Hill, and the slightly harder Mineral Basin. Although there are no “major” obstacles within this network, it can still provide many opportunities for entertainment alongside cool, shaded trails and incredible views. American Fork Canyon is also a popular network for camping away from the summer heat and city noise, so find yourself a good spot before someone else does! Again, these trails are only open for about half of the year. Check back for updates on seasonal closures.
All within about an hour of the Salt Lake Valley, these trails can provide an entire spectrum of wheeling. Driving just a bit further will broaden the range of choices to nearly anything you could imagine. Utah is one of the greatest states for wheeling, so be sure to get out there!