Memory Grove Freedom Trail

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Salt Lake City's Incredible Hiking and Biking Trails
pages 20-23

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Memory Grove, Salt Lake City Memory Grove, Salt Lake City

Memory Grove, Salt Lake City      Memory Grove Park, at the mouth of City Creek Canyon, is one of Salt Lake City’s oldest public parks. The area has always held a special significance for local residents because it was here that the Mormon pioneers established their camp and began planting their crops when they first entered the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. The land was later acquired by a private businessman, and in 1902, in order to prevent it from being developed, it was purchased by the city government and set aside as a public park.
      For the next 18 years the park remained largely unimproved, but in 1920 the Service Star Legion, an organization of women whose husbands and sons had served in World War One, persuaded the city to establish a memorial in the park “in grateful remembrance of the heroic sons of Utah who gave their lives in the World War”. Four years later the newly landscaped park was renamed Memory Grove Park, and since that time many more monuments and memorials have been erected.
      In 1984 a group of volunteers joined forces to construct a 0.5-mile trail along the eastern side of City Creek. The path, called Freedom Trail, begins near the Memorial House on the northern side of Memory Grove Park and ends further up the canyon below Bonneville Boulevard. There is also a mile-long paved bicycle path on the west side of the stream that begins at the Memorial House and ends at Bonneville Boulevard. The hike described here makes use of both the Freedom Trail and the bicycle path.
      Upon leaving East Capitol Boulevard the trail makes three long switchbacks down into the lower part of City Creek Canyon and then turns north into Memory Grove Park. This is a beautifully landscaped area with a cement walking path on the east side of the park that will take you past several memorials dedicated to the soldiers who fought in the wars of the last century. The first structure you will pass is a handsome World War One memorial known as the “Pagoda”. This was the first memorial to be built in the park.
      After following the walkway past the Memory Grove memorials on the east side of the canyon the path returns to the road in the center of the park. This is where you will see the Memorial House, a long two-story building that was originally built in 1890 for use as a stable, a barn and a storage shed. Today it is an office building for the Utah Heritage Foundation. You will pass the beginning of the Freedom Trail just before you reach the road in front of the Memorial House. Also you will see a gate across the road at this point. Cars are not allowed in Memory Grove beyond the gate, but bicycles can follow the paved road for the next mile to Bonneville Boulevard at the top of the canyon.
      Turning onto the Freedom Trail you can enjoy a pleasant walk beside the stream on a well-maintained trail for the next 0.5 mile. Eventually the trail comes to the last of several bridges, beyond which it rapidly deteriorates and soon completely disappears. Cross the bridge at that point and finish the last fifteen minutes of your walk on the road.
      This hike ends at the top of the canyon when the road reaches Bonneville Boulevard. There is another road, however, on the opposite side of Bonneville Boulevard that goes further up the canyon into the City Creek Nature Preserve. That road is closed to motor vehicles on odd numbered days of the month; consequently it is also a popular destination for bicyclers on the odd numbered days. (See page 127 for more information on the City Creek Nature Preserve.)

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