Park City tunnels tour like hiking through an art gallery

Three tunnel murals decorate this urban, handicap-accessible trail that also has rural elements

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Murals in tunnels along the Poison Creek Trail in Park City on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021.

Getting out and communing with nature often is the best part of going on a hike. Nothing beats forest bathing or finding pockets of paintbrushes as you breathe in the freshly oxygenated air.

But sometimes I just want to do a little exploring in a place where I won’t come back dusty, where the views are of the wares in local shops and where one of my discoveries is a double-scoop ice cream cone from a little corner store.

Just because it’s not in the woods or mountains or meadows doesn’t mean it isn’t a hike worth taking. Exhibit A is the Tour of the Tunnels and Rail Trail from Beverly Hurwitz’s “Park City Walking Guide.” The pleasant loop route is part art gallery, part Sunday stroll, part nature hike.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Murals in tunnels along the Rail Trail in Park City on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021.

The walls of the three tunnels along the hike are covered in murals. The first, according to a Park City public arts website, was painted in 2012 in the style of 1920s and ‘30s-era cartoons by Salt Lake artist Trent Call. Each section — north, south, east and west — corresponds with a season.

The second, short tunnel features bright, geometric designs. It was also painted in 2012, by Salt Lake artist Benjamin Wiemeyer.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Murals in tunnels along the Rail Trail in Park City on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021.

Most impressive, however, is the third tunnel, under Kearns Boulevard along Comstock Drive. It’s a series of 32 8-foot panels all designed and painted, incredibly well, by Park City High students.

The route also takes walkers, bikers, wheelchair users, scooters and more first along the rushing Silver Creek and later next to some open space via the Union Pacific Rail Trail. The latter part of the loops follows the more trafficked streets and is less interesting than the start. Still, I’ll take that over an out-and-back almost any day.

Plus, it verges dangerously close to the Ritual Chocolate cafe and the brand new Offset Bier. So even if ice cream isn’t nearby, a tasty drink certainly is.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) One of the panels in a mural painted by Park City High students in the tunnel under Kearns Boulevard in Park City on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021.

The Hike: Start at City Park near the tennis courts. Take the sidewalk to the right of the courts to and turn left — away from downtown — on the bike path. This is the Poison Creek Trail. You’ll enter the first tunnel right away.

After the second tunnel, turn right onto the blacktop trail that is the Union Pacific Rail Trail. Go two-thirds of a mile. Turn left on the Kearns Bike Path and follow it through a parking lot to Sidewinder Drive. There is an all-seasons water fountain here at New Prospector Park. Cross Sidewinder Drive and turn right on Comstock Road.

The third tunnel is at the light, crossing under Kearns Boulevard. Go left (west) out of the tunnel and walk along Kearns toward and past Park City High. At the Kearns-Bonanza-Monitor intersection, cross Monitor Drive and then Kearns. Walk south on the sidewalk alongside Bonanza Drive until it crosses Iron Horse Drive and merges again with the Poison Creek Trail. Retrace your steps back to City Park.

Getting there: From the Salt Lake Valley, take Interstate 80 east to exit 145 toward Kimball Junction. Turn right onto Utah 224 South and follow it 5.9 miles. At the light, turn left onto Deer Valley Drive. Take the first right onto Sullivan Road, which leads into City Park.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) One of the panels in a mural painted by Park City High students in the tunnel under Kearns Boulevard in Park City on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021.

Region: Park City

Destination: Three tunnels with murals

Distance: 3 miles

Time: 1 hour

Elevation Gain: 210 feet

Dog Allowed: Yes

Restrooms: Yes

Biking/wheelchairs: Yes

Difficulty: 1

— Julie Jag via Beverly Hurwitz