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Not everybody traveling along Scenic Byway 12 in southern Utah is in a car. Plans to stretch the popular Red Canyon multiuse trail to and then into Bryce Canyon National Park are underway.
Officials of the Scenic Byway 12 committee, Bryce Canyon City, Garfield County, Dixie National Forest and Utah Department of Transportation are working to extend the paved trail from its current end at the East Fork Road along Byway 12 for 5½ miles to the entrance of the national park.
Once there, the National Park Service is considering creating a similar trail allowing visitors to reach popular destinations on bicycles or by foot.
A long-term goal would be a multiuse trail stretching from Red Canyon to the town of Boulder and over Boulder Mountain to the Wayne County line close to Torrey.
"Traveling by bicycle is popular along the byway. People always like to see bicycle traffic separated from vehicle traffic," said John Holland, Scenic Byway 12 All-American Road coordinator. "Having the trail makes bicyclists and drivers more comfortable."
There are no official count for the number of cyclists using the existing trail in Red Canyon or along Byway 12, but Holland said from spring to fall it is common to see multiple cycling groups or individuals along the highway corridor.
The trail in Red Canyon is 8 feet wide, has two 4-foot lanes and a 2-foot shoulder on the sides. The current trail runs for 8.6 miles and was completed in 2009.
Holland said the cost estimate to lengthen the trail 5½ miles along Byway 12 to the Bryce Canyon City turn and then along State Road 63 to Bryce Canyon National Park is $2.1 million.
Funding would likely be shared by government agencies, business and possibly nonprofit organizations, he said, and could be sought from various public sources such as the Federal Lands Access Program and Utah State Parks Recreation Trails Program.
Holland said he's working to finish a draft proposal to figure out funding for the possible extension and expects, if approved, that the trail could be completed within three to five years.
Information on how to submit comment on the proposal to extend the trail from Bryce Canyon City to the national park is available online at bit.ly/Y1ENYz.
Bryce Canyon National Park officials are also planning a multiuse trail. The park is accepting public comment on the trail, which would run from the park boundary to the visitor center and beyond with original plans for a trail 5 to 6 miles long terminating at Bryce Point.
Bryce Canyon National Park Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh said several route options are being reviewed with stretches running along or near the main road from the entrance to the visitor center. Environmental protection criteria will be considered for the entire route, and cost estimates will not be available until a route is determined.
"From the visitor center to Bryce Point the alignment will likely follow some existing trails, utility corridors and, in some spots, track along sides of roads," Bradybaugh said. "The alignments will be designed to avoid sensitive resources such as wetlands."
He expects a route will not be decided until public comment is received and environmental compliance is completed, which could take up to two years.
The multiuse trail in the park would prohibit motorized modes of transportation but would be accessible to mobility-impaired visitors in electric wheelchairs.
The trail is being designed primarily for hikers, walkers and bicyclists and should help relieve traffic congestion in Bryce.
Bicyclists will be limited to the multiuse trail and park roads. The popular trails leading to the park's famous hoodoo formations will remain off limits to wheeled transportation.
"By regulation, bikes would continue to be prohibited on hiking trails below the rim," Bradybaugh said. "We expect there could be some confusion over this, so a key component of the planning is how to communicate appropriate use of bike and hiking trails through various media for folks to plan their trip prior to arrival, as well as information once here."
Have an opinion?
O National Park Service officials are proposing construction of a multiuse path that would connect with a proposed hiking/bicycling trail leading into Bryce Canyon National Park from Red Canyon on Scenic Byway 12 through Bryce Canyon City. Public comments will be accepted up to May 16 via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by regular mail to Bryce Canyon National Park, P.O. Box 640201, Bryce, UT 84764.