WASHINGTON CITY — Following the Dead or Alive 5K and 10K, some 100 people comprised of families, runners and a few super heroes and goblins, joined at the Sullivan Virgin River Soccer Park, located at 965 S. Washington Fields Dr. in Washington City, Saturday morning to celebrate the official opening of the Virgin River Boardwalk Trail.
After about 8 months of construction, an idea — conceptualized around 5 years ago — came to fruition; carving a 2-mile asphalt trail with 600 feet of a wooden boardwalk that coasts along the Virgin River, crosses three designated wetlands and winds east where it connects to the Grape Vine Trail and the Cottonwood Trail on the east side and continues as far west as Man O War Bridge trailhead in Bloomington on the west side, said Director of Parks and Leisure Service Barry Blake.
The Virgin River Boardwalk trail facilitates the activities akin to other paved trails in Southern Utah such as cycling and running; though, it also benefits the community because it provides access along the Virgin River for emergency vehicles in the case of a wilfire, Blake said. The boardwalk spans 10 feet in width, 600 feet in length and has a 10,000 weight capacity.
“This was a vital piece to connect with the three rivers trail system,” Blake said. “This gets us to Sunrise Valley.”
This $1.2 million project was a collaborative effort among Washington City, Alliance Consulting and J.P. Excavating. Before the project got started; however, there were quite a few obstacles to complete such as obtaining permitting through Fish and Wildlife, Army Corps engineers and Bureau of Land Management, said Alliance Project Engineer Mike Bradshaw.
One of the most difficult parts of constructing this trail was figuring out how to bank in the steep slope that rises from the north side of the trail, Bradshaw said. In order to counter the steep slope, the engineers designed an elevated boardwalk secured with cement pillars that stem about 14 feet below on the downside of the slope and 2 feet below on the uphill.
“When we first started, we probably walked this stretch 20 times. The tamarisk and shrubbery were so thick we had to chop our way through with a machete,” Bradshaw said. “When you get out there, when it’s quiet, you can hear the water trickling through the wetlands.”
This trail adds another “awe-factor” not just for the community but Southern Utah as a whole, Washington City Mayor Ken Neilson said.
“When I was a kid we never had this kind of access to the river right here unless you had a horse or were hunting,” Neilson said. “Our end goal is to connect trails from SunRiver to Zion National Park.”
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