The Columbia Directors of Toughness made a pit stop in Salt Lake City so we took a few hours away from the office to give them a taste of what the city really has to offer: diverse landscapes, hundreds of miles of trails, and unparalleled access to the great outdoors.
Faith Briggs and Mark Chase, Columbia’s Directors of Toughness, travel around the world testing Columbia’s products in some pretty rough conditions. When they stopped in Salt Lake, they’d just gotten back from a 60-mile run through the Andes, so they were more than ready to join a couple of our Backcountry Gearheads for an early spring run in one of Utah’s most unique locations.
The crew set off to Antelope Island , the largest island in the Great Salt Lake and home to some of Utah’s most unique ecosystems. Antelope Island is a Utah state park, named by settlers for the herds pronghorn antelope often found grazing there. The island stretches about 15 miles long and five miles wide with its highest point—Frary Peak—sitting at 6596 feet above sea level.
Runners love Antelope Island for its rolling, hard-packed trails and beautiful views. With Salt Lake City just out of sight, it often feels as if you’re running through a remote and primitive wilderness, especially if you’re lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the bison herds grazing just off the trail. The panoramic views of the Great Salt Lake from the top of Frary Peak make it a must-visit if you’re feeling up for a challenge. If you’re not looking for a peak run there are plenty of other trails on the island to choose from, or you can opt for a leisurely barefoot stroll on the salty shoreline. Whatever your plan, be sure to plan your trip around sunrise or sunset – that’s when the magic happens!
Our Gearheads took the Directors of Toughness on the Frary Peak trail, figuring if Faith and Mark were only here for one day, they had better 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 the crew had to be on their toes for some icy and rocky spots along the way. They were even fortunate enough to see a few roaming bison from one of the largest free-roaming bison herds in the nation.
As they approached the summit of Frary Peak, the clouds from the previous day’s storm appeared beautifully lit by the early evening sun. Every turn in the trail presented an even more spectacular view—exactly what trail runners live for. As the wind picked up and temps dropped, the crew turned an about face. They picked up the pace and chased the sun on the way down, hoping to be on the shore for sunset … and timing it perfectly. They finished the run with some strides on the beach and a snack in the picnic area, putting a cap on a perfect day of trail running.
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.