‘Just as beautiful and worth visiting’ as Zion: Local groups plan to improve regional trail system

LAVERKINThe dedication of a new and improved trailhead for the LaVerkin Overlook Trail brought together city officials, local business owners and area residents on Tuesday morning.

Several local businesses and private citizens collaborated with LaVerkin City to restore the trailhead and make plans for future development, Utah, Sept. 21, 2021 | Photo by Ammon Teare, St. George News

While the trail has been in use for over two decades, it’s seen almost no upkeep outside of volunteer work done by private citizens. After a year and a half of planning, preparation and labor, the entrance to the trail has been overhauled and the length of its course has been cleared for public use.

“If you can, get out and hike the trail at any time,” said Patty Wise, LaVerkin City Council member. “It’s beautiful, and it really shows off all of LaVerkin. We’re kind of a hidden gem here, and I’m not sure how long we’ll stay hidden.”

The trail starts at the base of the hillside near 401 South and 100 West, climbing 1.1 miles one-way to the LaVerkin Overlook Monument Trailhead. Hikers can see local flora and fauna as well as an overhead perspective of LaVerkin and its neighboring communities. 

At the top, visitors can see east toward Zion and get a birds-eye view of the canals carved into the side of the Virgin River canyon by the region’s settlers.

The kiosk installed at the trailhead displays a map of the overlook trail’s path as well as information about the agencies that manage the surrounding land, LaVerkin, Utah, Sept. 21, 2021 | Photo by Ammon Teare, St. George News

LaVerkin City partnered with Findlay Subaru, Canyon Media and Greater Zion Convention and Tourism Office as the organizations were looking for trail systems to rehabilitate, Wise said.

The partnership between the three local institutions came from a desire to serve local communities and take some strain off heavily-trafficked outdoor spaces like Zion National Park, said Leslie Fonger, destination development manager for Greater Zion.

“Zion is beautiful, but remember, there is a lot more than Zion,” Fonger said. “One of the goals of the regional trail system is to help people get to other areas that are just as beautiful, worth seeing and worth staying for.”

Enlisting the services of other local businesses – including Kody Construction and Rainbow Sign and Banner – Findlay Subaru, Canyon Media and Greater Zion organized the construction and installation of a kiosk at the trailhead to display the trail’s route and describe the area’s history. 

LaVerkin City provided public works employees to restore the parking lot and remove debris that had been dumped at the site. 

“More people will come because of this,” said Dave Gourley, general manager of Findlay Subaru. “I know it’s hard to believe that just installing a sign and fixing up a parking lot will do that, but it will. I’d love to do one a quarter or even one a month – we’ll go as fast as the community will let us.”

The trail itself has been walkable for several years thanks in large part to the restoration and maintenance efforts of Shawn Green, a local resident and retired park ranger. 

Shawn Green, a retired park ranger, has spent years maintaining the overlook trail, La Verkin, Utah, Sept. 21, 2021 | Photo by Ammon Teare, St. George News

Ultimately, the goal for the public-private partnership led by the trio of local organizations is to tie these small trails into the Zion Corridor Trail, a $13.5 million to create an 18-mile paved trail from LaVerkin to Springdale. 

The corridor project recently received a $10.8 million grant from the state government, and an environmental assessment is ongoing as part of its planning phase. Construction should start within two years and is expected to be complete within about six, Fonger said.

In the meantime, representatives from Greater Zion, Canyon Media and Findlay Subaru expressed their interest in restoring more trails throughout Washington County.

“If people know of trails that are in disrepair, need improvement or more signage – including a formalized kiosk – we’ve got the community partners,” said Ben Lindquist, general manager of Canyon Media. “We would love to do more of this as soon as possible.”

Suggestions for future trail projects can be sent to Ben Lindquist at Canyon Media or to Karyn Keanaainia at Findlay Subaru.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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