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Red Canyon Trail in Garfield County

Published in Success Stories

Brief Summary of the Challenge or Opportunity: The Red Canyon Trail is a bicycle/pedestrian paved trail system that runs adjacent to Scenic Byway 12, Utah's All-American Road in Garfield County Utah. There are three phases to the bicycle/pedestrian trail. This success story addresses the latest phase (Phase III) as seen on the project map. Phase III was the opportunity to participate in public outreach and conceptual planning to continue this excellent community enhancement.

Currently, the bicycle/pedestrian trail ends 5.4 miles from the entrance to Bryce Canyon National Park. This latest successful partnership effort - spear-headed by the Scenic Byway 12 Foundation - was guided by the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails, & Conservation Assistance Program (RTCA) our partners who conducted public outreach and prepared a conceptual plan to complete the section of bicycle/pedestrian trail to Bryce Canyon National Park.

The opportunity: Extending the bicycle/pedestrian trail to the park provides connectivity between Red Canyon and Bryce Canyon and enhances recreation opportunities in the area by creating a safe path for cyclists and pedestrians to travel the Scenic Byway 12 and Highway 63 corridors. Both sections of this fabulous bicycle/pedestrian trail is a project that demonstrates the best practices with community partners in rural areas to get people and public lands connected in an aesthetic, healthy and fun way . This bicycle/pedestrian path and its planning and construction continues to be a great success story - how cooperation and collaboration among partners can result in through our rural public lands.

The Challenge (s) and/or Opportunities

Pertinent history

Over the years, the bicycle and pedestrian traffic on Scenic Byway 12 increased significantly to a level of concern for people’s safety.  In the early 2000s, the Forest Service leadership found the funding to plan and construct the first phase of the Red Canyon Trail. After it was completed, it was such a success, the next phase was created. The previous sections of the Red Canyon Trail, Phases I & II were the result of successful partnerships between Garfield County, Dixie National Forest, and the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) and many local entities represented by Scenic Byway 12 Foundation.  

Long-term goal/vision for the situation

Provide a safe, enjoyable, experience and produce a connected non‐motorized extension of the Red Canyon Trail for visitors and residents in Garfield County in order to enhance recreation, economic development, and appreciation of the area’s natural beauty.

The setting

The bicycle/pedestrian trail is near the beginning of Scenic Byway 12 (mile marker 3) and the mouth of colorful Red Canyon approximately 9.5 miles outside Panguitch and runs through the Dixie National Forest.  Red Canyon is a remarkable landscape with red rock spires, and sandy washes in bright pink and orange hues - a world-class setting for biking, walking or hiking.

Key stakeholders and partners

The key partners involved in the current effort to extend the Red Canyon Trail represent several local, regional, state, and federal organizations. The list includes:

  • Scenic Byway 12 Foundation
  • Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Business Owners
  • Dixie National Forest
  • Garfield County
  • Bryce Canyon City
  • Utah Department of Transportation ‐ Region 4

Key funding sources

The UDOT Project Expenditure Summary lists a cost of $504,087.07, with the breakdown as follows:

  • Pre‐Construction Engineering: $181,696.18
  • Construction Contractor Payment: $322,390.89

To supplement the Enhancement funds, Garfield County obtained a Utah State Trails grant for $74,000 and worked with the Forest Service on engineering and construction under collection agreement. An increase in construction costs postponed the completion of the trail to East Fork Road.

In 2009, the trail received Federal Stimulus Enhancement funding from the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (2009), allowing construction of the remaining 1.2 miles.

The UDOT Project Expenditure Summary lists a cost of $435,309.95, with the breakdown as follows:

  • Pre‐Construction Engineering: $8,149.83
  • Construction Engineering: $10,012.54
  • Construction Contractor Payment: $358,560.32
  • Construction Engineering Consultant: $58,587.26
  • Phases I and II were designated a National Recreation Trail in 2012.

Special considerations

UDOT already had successfully completed two phases of the Red Canyon Trail. NPS has secured funds to do trail planning within Bryce Canyon NPS to connect with Red Canyon Trail system - with the trail system that will cross, USFS thru Bryce Canyon City and along UDOT ROW and Bureau of Land Management. A stellar example of partnering!

Potential roadblocks that contributed to the challenging nature of the situation

Any planning process that crosses public lands and local municipalities and sometimes private lands can be challenging. The actual geography of planning for the Red Canyon trail system had some intrinsic challenges too.

The Strategy Applied and the Outcome

The approached used and action taken and why

All inclusive collaborative planning was undertaken. Trails were constructed with strong partnership support.

Other options considered

This non-motorized bicycle/pedestrian paved trail system was considered the best option after all trail routing alternatives were considered.

The outcome(s) and any additional or ongoing follow up

Funding secured through a Federal Highways Administration (FHWA) grant for additional phases of the trail along Scenic Byway 12 and all additional trail planning under Scenic Byway 12 Foundation and SB-12 Corridor Management Plan.

What was Learned?

That community visions can really happen with strong determination and partnerships. We also learned that staying authentic with a strong sense of place while planning and designing projects will always pay off in the long run. Short cuts really don’t work.

What worked well?

Collaborative strategizing and planning worked well. And meeting facilitation by Scenic Byway Coordinator and NPCA Planner was excellent.

What didn’t?

We had no issues, the partners were super cooperative.

What were the key factors that influenced the outcome?

Strong desire to bring vision and goals to fruition and all onboard with getting planning and project completed. The Red Canyon trail system is now an economic driver as well as a popular destination.

What role did partners play and were there shifts in perspectives and/or relationships between partners?

This project only strengthened the long-term relationships with all partners - the project was all-inclusive and timely. Also, this project and the entire Red Canyon Trail is an example to other communities as to how they can enhance their scenic byways and rural roads, especially those that serve as Gateway Communities.

What would you do differently if you could replay the situation?

The process worked well. There were a few glitches on completing the planning process, but even a bit of lag time didn’t diminish the overall success of this project.

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