Salt Lake City Day Hike: Lost Prospector

Hilltop view of Park City and surrounding hills, one with PC spelled out on the hillside. Short wild grasses grow in the foreground.

The Lost Prospector Trail in Park City. Photo © Mike Matson.


Lost Prospector

Park City Municipal Corporation

Lost Prospector offers an easy-access, low-elevation trail that traverses across Masonic Hill, just east of Main Street in Park City. This trail offers an overlook with wide views, offers opportunities for bird-watching and wildlife viewing. It is rated as being appropriate for children over six who are fit.
    • Level: Moderate
    • Total Distance: 4.3 miles one-way (loop option given)
    • Hiking Time: 2.5–3 hours
    • Elevation Change: 328 feet
    • GPS Coordinates: N 40°66.804’ W 111°48.543’ (Prospector Park Trailhead) or N 40°65.054’ W 111°49.678’ (Aerie Drive Trailhead)
Moderate hikes are generally suitable for adults and children above the age of six who are fit.×

This Park City backyard trail is an autumn classic. Quaking aspen, Gambel oak, and Rocky Mountain maple trees line the trail and turn red, orange, and yellow in September and October. Traversing right above town, the trail’s relatively low elevation keeps it free of early-season snow. Popular with beginner mountain bikers for its gentle grade, the trail is an unintimidating outing for hikers of all types. Birders might spot black-billed magpies, white crowned sparrows, western meadowlarks, and horned larks in the mixed sagebrush and forest environments along the rolling hillside. The trail offers views down Main Street in historic Park City, and across the valley to the slopes of Park City Mountain Resort.

The trail is best hiked as a one-way excursion, parking a vehicle at both ends. From the small parking lot at Prospector Park, walk east along the paved path for 0.1 mile until it merges with the wider Rail Trail. Continue east on the Rail Trail for 0.6 mile. Despite the Rail Trail’s proximity to the Kearns Boulevard, an excellent wildlife-watching opportunity presents itself. Between the trail and the road several beaver ponds with a large beaver lodge can be easily spotted. Just before you cross the bridge, look for the brown flexi-pole sign marking the Skid Row Trail. Turn right at the sign following the dirt path into the woods. Skid Row hardly lives up to its ominous name. Winding up through a maple and oak forest, the trail switchbacks gently back and forth, slowly gaining elevation. Mountain bikers usually ride the trail and this is their descent, so be aware that they could come around a corner at any time.

At 1.3 miles the trail reaches a junction with a trail sign. Take the right fork here, following the sign for Lost Prospector. The trail levels off, having already done most of its climbing. The dirt path rolls up and down, traversing the ridge westward above Park City High School. At 2.4 miles you’ll reach another signed junction; continue straight to stay on the Lost Prospector Trail. Views open up 2–3 miles down to the high school and west toward downtown Park City. At 3.5 miles there is another trail junction; again continue straight, following the sign for the Lost Prospector Trail. This is the beginning of a beautiful stretch of trail through an aspen grove. At 3.8 miles views look down over Main Street to the ski slopes of Park City Mountain Resort. The trail ends at 4.3 miles on Aerie Drive.


Options

It’s possible to make a loop trip out of Lost Prospector by descending Aerie Drive, turning left, and following Deer Valley Drive to the Rail Trail. Then turn right on the Rail Trail and follow it back to Prospector Park.


Directions

To the Prospector Park trailhead: From Salt Lake City drive east on I-80 for 27 miles to Exit 146 and merge onto U.S. Highway 40 headed east. Continue 3.8 miles to Exit 4 for Park City. Turn right off the exit ramp onto Kearns Boulevard and drive 1.7 miles. Turn left on Wyatt Earp Way and turn left again into Prospector Park (2500 Wyatt Earp Way).

To the Aerie Drive trailhead: From Salt Lake City drive east on I-80 for 23.5 miles to Exit 145 for Kimball Junction. Turn right off the freeway ramp onto State Route 224 and continue for 5.8 miles to Park City. Turn left onto Deer Valley Drive and drive 0.7 mile to Aerie Drive. Turn left on Aerie Drive and drive 0.2 mile to a small parking area on the right side of the road. The trail is across the street on the left side of the road.


Information and Contact

There is no fee. Dogs are allowed on leash. A map of the trail is available at the town of Park City’s website. For more information contact the Park City Municipal Corporation, 445 Marsac, Park City, UT 84060, 435/615-5001.


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Take a Hike Salt Lake City.

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