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New Traverse Mountain Trailhead and conservation easement celebrated with ribbon-cutting

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Megan Wallgren | Touriddu

Lehi City residents and officials celebrated the creation of the 900-acre Traverse Mountain Conservation Easement and the opening of the Hidden Canyon Trailhead on Saturday, June 1, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and community party. The event coincided with National Trails Day.

“This has been a long time coming, and it has taken a lot to get here,” said Lehi Mayor Mark Johnson. “This is a great opportunity for those who want to recreate. It is the best trailhead in the system. The city's crews have done a fantastic job.”

The Hidden Canyon Trailhead is located at 6363 N. Fox Canyon Rd. It has 45 stalls in the paved parking lot. Future plans for the site include a restroom, picnic pavilion and landscaping. The trailhead provides hikers and mountain bikers access to 27 miles of trails on the south slope of Traverse Mountain. It connects to the Draper Corner Canyon Trail System.

Around 100 people attended the event, which included food trucks and booths from local recreation and conservation groups. The Lehi and Skyridge High School Mountain Biking Teams also came. Many people took to the trails after the ribbon cutting to enjoy the day.

“I'm all for cities doing as much as they can to provide trails, and this is a great use for open space,” said mountain biker Neil McGarry. His trail partner, Bob Edwards, said, “It allows people to get out and enjoy the outdoors, and that's a good thing.”

Three new trails are in the works this summer. The Mayors' Trail, named for Lehi Mayor Mark Johnson and Draper Mayor Troy Walker, will provide another connection point that helps riders and hikers access the Draper Trails System. The Lehi's Dream Trail will be Lehi's first downhill mountain biking-only trail. The Stairway to Heaven Trail will be a hiking-only trail connecting the Fox Canyon Trailhead to Deer Ridge Trail in Corner Canyon.

Lehi City Parks Planner Trent Dyer said funding for building the new trails will come from the non-profit Traverse Mountain Trails Association (TMTA), a Utah Outdoor Recreation Grant, and Lehi City.

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Motorized vehicles, including popular motorized dirt bikes, are prohibited on all area trails. Mayor Johson said he has seen the damage caused by people riding motorized dirt bikes.

“Kids will say that it doesn't matter, but it does. You can see the ruts,” he said. Pedal-assist e-bikes are allowed on the trails.

The Lehi City Council has recently voted to place 900 acres in the area into a Conservation Easement held by Draper City. It allows for the passive use of the property for recreation, education and conservation purposes. Lehi City will be responsible for the area's maintenance and fire and EMT services.

Mayor Johnson said the easement's purpose is to guarantee the conservation and protection of the area for generations to come. Because Draper holds the easement, future city councils can only change the use of the area to allow for more construction or development of homes and businesses with approval from Draper City, making it harder to do so.

“It is protected and preserved in perpetuity,” Johnson said.

Draper Mayor Troy Walker was also in attendance at the event. He rode his bike from Draper to the Fox Canyon Trailhead on the joined trail system to participate in the ribbon-cutting.

“We have 125 miles of built trails in our system, and tying into these trails just adds to the opportunities for our citizens to recreate,” Walker said.

Mayors Johnson and Walker have been taking opportunities to ride the trails and check out the progress and what the partnership between the two cities has created.

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“We've been riding these remarkable trails, and they've done an amazing job. Riders don't care where the city boundaries are. They want to come and ride and enjoy the area,” said Johnson.

Lehi's conservation easement was patterned after what Draper has done with the Corner Canyon Area. Salt Lake County is the holder of a conservation easement in that area that limits what Draper can do with the land.

“It has taken a lot of money and effort to build these trails, and we need to preserve that,” said Walker.

Lehi City Council members were also in attendance.

“It's been incredible to work to make this happen,” said Councilmember Heather Newall. “It will be a benefit for generations to come. I've loved working with Draper to connect our communities. This is the start of more we will continue to do for our community to expand the open space and the benefits of living in Lehi.”

Councilmember Michelle Stalling said, “This is the best and easiest vote I've made on the council so far. It's such a beautiful area, and I'm so glad we can conserve it for our families and neighbors to enjoy.”

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