The Columbia Directors of Toughness came to Salt Lake, and we took a few hours to give them a taste of the best of what the city has to offer. Of course, for us that would be great access to the outdoors.
Faith Briggs and Mark Chase are the Directors of Toughness, traveling around the world testing Columbia’s products in some pretty rough conditions. They’d just gotten back from a 60-mile run through the Andes, so they were more than ready to join me and Jimmy Elam, another Backcountry Gearhead and dedicated runner, for an early spring desert run—just miles from Backcountry’s downtown warehouse.
We went to Antelope island , the largest island in the Great Salt Lake. It’s a state park about 15 miles long, five miles wide, and its highest point—Frary Peak—is at 6596 feet. It was named by settlers after the pronghorn antelope that they found on it.
Runners love Antelope Island for its rolling, hard-packed trails and beautiful views. We are spoiled enough as it is with the fantastic trails in the Wasatch mountains, but the 360-degree views of the Great Salt Lake at the top of Frary Peak and the reflection of the mountains on the water make it special. Salt Lake City is just far enough away that you can’t see if from the island, so it really feels as if you’re running through a remote and primitive wilderness. If you’re really lucky, the bison herds are grazing right off the trails making the whole experience even more incredible. If you’re not looking for a peak run there are plenty of other trails, or you can barefoot run on the salty shoreline. The best is to be on Antelope Island at sunset—the cherry on top of a perfect day of trail running.
Jimmy and I took the Directors of Toughness on Frary Peak trail. We figured if they were only here for one day, we had to show them the views from the top! Frary Peak is a moderately technical out-and-back trail with a steady climb of 2000 feet up and a nice enough grade to cruise down. The trail veers off in different directions at many points for scenic overlooks, so you can easily customize the length of your run. For the most part it is a relatively hard-packed singletrack trail, though we had to be on our toes for some icy and rocky spots along the way. We were even fortunate enough to see a few roaming bison, which had us wondering how close the massive herd was. The island actually has one of the largest free-roaming bison herds in the nation!
As we approached the summit of Frary peak, the clouds from the previous day’s storm were beautifully lit by the early evening sun. Every turn in the trail presented an even more spectacular view—exactly what we trail runners live for. As the wind picked up and temps dropped, we turned around. We picked up the pace and chased the sun on our way down, hoping to be on the shore for sunset … and we timed it perfectly. We finished our run with some strides on the beach and snack in the picnic area. We really couldn’t have been there on a more perfect day.
Antelope Island State Park is a 42-mile drive from downtown Salt Lake City. It’s connected to the mainland via a causeway out of Syracuse. Toll fees and admission fees apply.