City Creek Nature Notes – Salt Lake City

September 20, 2016

August 14th

Pipeline Trail

7 p.m. At this time of day the lower canyon is completely in shade and the evening air in the canyon is growing cooler. It is Sunday and this brings out couples and families with small children. To have more solitude, I jog up the pipeline trail that runs parallel to and 30 meters east of the road. The first mile and a half of the trail can be divided into three sections. The first half mile consists of dense water tolerant scrub oak and brush, but the pipeline trail itself is rocky and exposed to the full sun. The power line runs next to the trail but above the scrub oak. In the spring and early summer, this provides a favorable habitat for small songbirds. They live in the oak groves, but the colorful males perch on the power line to make their display songs. During the spring migration, this is a favorite bird watching spot for many. In the second half mile the canyon narrows and cliffs to the west provide water seeps. The increased shade and availability of water changes the trail to over hung oak and beech trees. After the first mile, the canyon opens up into a wide brush meadow, and from the meadow, the mountains that frame the upper canyon can be seen. These include Black Mountain on the south and an unnamed ridge that blocks the view of Grandview Peak on the north. The entire trail is alive with the evening sounds of crickets. As I exit into the meadow, the sun is setting behind the east and north ridgelines. This bathes Black Mountain and the upper canyon in a yellow-orange alpenglow. Over the south ridgeline, a three quarter moon is rising. It is an idyllic and special moment.

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