Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Moab Mill Creek Parkway Running Route

Click here for route map

Length 3.8 km (2.4 mi), terrain: flat, gain 27 meters

Just about any time you show up in Moab, Utah, it will be hot. That's why it's good to find a running trail with lots of shade. And that means the Mill Creek Parkway. It's meandering green oasis gracing the heart of town, with cottonwoods and other water-loving shade trees providing a canopy over much of the trail.
Mill Creek runners
Mill Creek flows from the La Sal Mountains to the east, crosses town, and then joins the Colorado River to the west. And the Parkway trail gets you away from all the Main Street loud tourist stuff.
Welcome to Moab: Main Street
This short run follows part of the creek valley: it heads 1.2 miles east from the town center to Rotary Park, and then follows the same way back. The few busy streets are easily crossed, as the trail goes under them via underpasses.

The trail is mainly paved with cement, with a variety of pedestrian bridges connecting the neighboring streets into the trail. You'll fall in love with this whole other side of Moab.
A Parkway bridge
There are also extra connectors at various spots that can take you to other trails, like the Pack Creek Parkway near the starting point.

The foot- and bike-trail has been around for 20 years now, linking the eastern residential neighborhoods with the town center. The local museum donated various bits of old farming- and mining-equipment on display along the parkway, adding points of interest. And neighbors have contributed fanciful carved seats at a few spots, too.
Mill Creek: I like it!
Let's start the trail in town at the western end, at the corner of S 100 W and W 100 S (the Utah street-numbering system can confuse about anybody!). To get there, turn west off US 191 on W 100 S at Zax Restaurant and head one block to the right-hand curve. You'll see the creek and the trail right there next to the street. 
Trail map near the start
NOTE: Heading west from our starting point, there is another section of the trail that goes another kilometer westwards along the creek to S 500 W, near the Moab Regional Hospital. Maybe try it out to add some extra distance!

Now just turn eastwards and follow the trail for the one block until it heads down through an underpass beneath Main Street (US 191).
Main Street underpass...
On the other side, the lower creek trail heads uphill, bounded by a brick retaining wall for the adjoining businesses.
...and back out again
A couple of connecting trails then join from both sides, but just stay on the main trail directly to the right side of the creek. The trail curves southwards and heads towards the next underpass, at E 300 S.

After the E 300 S underpass, you head by the "Bark Park" (a dog park) on the right side and then the middle school and high school. Then, just before going under Fourth Street, you run by the Youth Garden, kind of a cool project where the school kids raise vegetables.
Heading to the Bark Park, under E 300 S
On the last stretch of the upper creek, you'll run past a new subdivision before reaching Rotary Park.

Rotary Park is the turnaround spot. This typical small-town park offers lots of shade (I'm grateful for any respite from the desert heat!), with a playground, barbeque grills and restrooms. The best things about the park are the cool extras like the hummingbird garden and an area with fun xylophones and gongs to make your own music on. Make sure you stop to try the hand-made percussion instruments. You'll love it!
Time to compose your next symphony...
After your concert, just turn back and head home along the same trail.

ANOTHER NOTE: Farther west, you can head out Powerhouse Lane, which brings you to the Mill Creek North Fork Trailhead. The Mill Creek Trail starts at the beginning of a beautiful red-rock canyon, heading past a little dam, passing Mill Creek Falls, and ending 7.5 miles later. It's too rough to run, but a great hike!

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