My front-burner project right now is revising the Ogden Sierra Club’s Outings Guide booklet--the pocket-size trail guide that we’ve published since 1975. I took over the editorship 11 years ago with a major update, then made another big revision in 2004 when we expanded the coverage farther into neighboring counties.
But now the Guide is out of print, and it’s my fault. Before printing another thousand copies, I want to make sure it’s as up to date as possible. And there have been lots of changes to Ogden area trails since 2004.
Many of the changes are along the Ogden-Weber River Parkway, a multi-use urban trail that keeps growing every year. To see the latest improvements, I took a couple of bicycle excursions along the Parkway earlier this week.
I wish I knew the whole history of the Parkway. The first segment, from the mouth of Ogden Canyon to Washington Blvd., was newly completed when I moved to Ogden in 1993. I’ve heard that former city council member Glen Holley was one of the people most responsible--but I’m sure there were many others. This portion of the Parkway is still the most heavily used.
Next came a terrific trail segment along the Weber River in Riverdale, constructed in 1996. That year was the centennial of Utah’s statehood, and by then people were talking about a much greater vision: a continuous trail along the Ogden and Weber rivers, connected to the Bonneville Shoreline Trail to make a grand 27-mile loop called the Centennial Trail.
The person who worked hardest on the project at that time was undoubtedly Jay Hudson, who had asked me to join the city’s trails committee two years earlier. Jay was assistant to Mayor Mecham for a while, then retired and kept working on the Parkway.
Pretty soon Weber Pathways, a new nonprofit organization, got into the act. They’ve since grown to become the driving force behind completing the Parkway. I can hardly imagine the complexity of the negotiations with multiple land owners and government agencies, but I’m grateful to everyone (including Mayor Godfrey) who has supported this project.
During recent years, Ogden has pushed the Ogden River Parkway west through the central city and then over the viaduct to the 21st Street Pond. West Haven took it from there to the confluence with the Weber River, then southward up the Weber River and back into Ogden. A new tunnel now connects the Ogden Kayak Park to Fort Buenaventura.
Only one more short segment, near the 31st Street interchange, is needed to connect Riverdale to Fort Buenaventura and all the rest. Thanks to a RAMP grant, that segment will be completed this summer. We’ll then have more than 10 continuous miles of river parkway (not counting several nice side trails), from the mouth of Ogden Canyon to the south end of Riverdale.
Economists could probably put a price on the long-term value of this amenity to our community--and I’m sure it would be at least tens of millions of dollars. To me, however, it’s priceless.