Emigration Canyon Road is a locals' favorite. The canyon's moderate grade, scenic attractions, historical significance, and convenient location next to Salt Lake City make it perfect fo a casual day tour or a routine training ride.
The 8-mile-long Emigration Canyon Road begins where Sunnyside Avenue (850 South) enters the Wasatch Mountains. (There's a small parking area east of Hogle Zoo and across from Crestview Drive.) But first, stop into This is the Place State Park for a multimedia, historical overview of the route you are about to pedal.
Long before a roadway curved up the canyon, Emigration was the chosen route for pioneer travelers, Pony Express, transcontinental telegraph, and various stage coach lines. Most notably, Brigham Young and his Mormon Pioneer Company descended Emigration Canyon in 1847 to culminate their great westward trek in the Great Salt Lake Valley. It was from near the canyon's mouth that Brigham Young purportedly look out over the sprawling valley and proclaimed the words after which the state park is named.
After bending around several curves, you pass Ruth's Diner (a converted trolley car that opens to a creek-side dining patio) and Santa Fe Restaurant. Farther up the oak brush- and evergreen-forested canyon you pass Crompton's Roadside Attraction (another canyon cafe), which features bluegrass bands on weekends. At the Pinecrest turnoff, stay right to begin the final climb to the summit. Along this stretch, you have long views down the length of Emigration Canyon and of Salt Lake City beyond.
The road tops out at Little Mountain Pass, from where you can view the Mill Creek Ridge to the south, Lookout Peak to the north, and Upper Mountain Dell Reservoir below. Turn around here to enjoy the fast descent back to the city, or continue east and extend your ride by heading up state highway 65 to Big Mountain Pass or descending to Salt Lake City through Parley's Canyon on interstate 80.
Note: If you're the competitive type, be sure to start your stopwatch near the mouth of the canyon at the "bicycles ride single file" sign. Strong bikers are know to crest the canyon in 25 to 30 minutes.