Sunday, March 19, 2017

Great Salt Lake Shoreline & Buffalo Ranch Loop


You can combine the Great Salt Lake Shoreline Trail with the Buffalo Ranch Trail into a nice loop trail in Farmington. Well, partially great. I enjoyed the Shoreline Trail, didn’t particularly care for the Buffalo Ranch Trail. The latter trail is mostly through a neighborhood and along peoples backyards, and under power lines. But the Shoreline Trail offers great views of the mountains, Antelope Island, 2 ponds and a lot of birds.

After last weeks adventure resulting in trudging through the snow, I wanted to find something a little lower down in the valley and new. And I found this.

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Quick Details:

Length: The Great Salt Lake Shoreline Trail is 1.9 Miles. The Section of Buffalo Ranch we did to complete the loop was 1.79 for a 3.69 total mile loop.
Difficulty: DR2 pretty flat, wide gravel path.
Elevation Gain: 26 feet.
Restroom: Not at the trailhead we used, but there is one at the Glovers Pond Trailhead.
Dogs? I’m not sure, but I think so.

To get here: Take the Park Lane exit in Farming ton and head west. Park Lane will curve to the right and become Clark Lane/100 N. Then it will curve to the left slightly, and you will see a large dirt parking lot on the left at approximately: 37 S Buffalo Ranch Road. You can go south or north to do the full loop. But if you want to skip most of Buffalo Ranch head north.

There is an alternate trailhead near the Great Salt Lake Nature Center at about 1600 W Glovers Ln. But keep driving to the end of Glovers Lane at the north end of the pond.

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I particularly like the trailhead sign.

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Trailhead Sign.

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Buffalo Ranch.

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Nice wide gravel trail. Note ranch on the left, houses on the right. Don’t worry after 3/10 of a mile the trail curves to the left and away from the houses.

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Horses.

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Power wires for days. Keep to the left. I’m not sure where that trail goes, and it’s not listed on Farmington’s map. Oh, and we are officially on the Great Salt Lake Shoreline Trail now.

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Antelope Island.

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Some geese taking off.

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The first pond. The Farmington guide said there were 3. I only remember this one and Glovers.

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Overflow pipe?

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Antelope Island again.

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The trail around the pond.

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I think this is Steed Canyon and part of Davis Canyon on the right.

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There are quite a few benches to stop and take in the views.

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Antelope Island again. So, even though this is the Shoreline Trail, the Great Salt Lake is really, really low on water right now, so you can’t even see it.

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The Pond, Buffalo Ranch; Farmington, Steed and Davis Canyons.

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Antelope Island. This trail really offers some great views.

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The pond again.

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The trail. About here you start getting serenaded by the frogs. It is a great sound! Never did see any of them but it was great to hear them croak.

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Waterfowl on the pond.

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Antelope Island through the cattails.

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I thought these were geese at the time, but now they look like great blue herons.

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The ‘Soccer Ball’. I thought this was a water tower, but I finally learned it is the FAA Radome. Or an aviation weather station.

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Cattails for days.

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The ponds main outlet.

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The Oquirrh Mountains.

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Hunting for frogs! never did see any, but I wasn’t going to go tromping through the water to find one so, yea, didn’t find one.

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Panoramic of Antelope Island.

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I think this is Steed Canyon.

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Farmington Canyon.

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The Oquirrh Mountains again.

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Geese.

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Some of the Peaks above Salt Lake County can be seen from here.

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Dead skunk. I’ve never seen one of these in the wild before… and I think it can stay that way.

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Seeing some water out there. Not sure if it is the lake, or just a creek heading towards it.

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The Soccer Ball again. Oh, and I see the Freedom Hills Switchback Trail as well just to the right.

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Silos.

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More geese. It must be nesting season.

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And we spotted a hawk hunting. I think this is a Northern Harrier.

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Soaring over the geese. One of the reasons I am leaning towards Northern Harrier is the fact that they tend to soar close to the ground.

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Actually got a decent shot of a killdeer. These guys like to nest around this area, in fact you should watch your step because their nests are small depressions in the gravel.

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It sure is pretty out here. This is definitely one of my favorite areas to explore late winter/early spring.

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Nearing Glovers Pond and the Great Blue Heron nesting colony.

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Glovers Pond. If you decide to skips the Buffalo Ranch trail you have 2 options. Either go ahead and turn around, or, do the Glovers Pond loop around the pond, and come back the way you came. Doing the loop will add 1.2 miles. There is a restroom at the SE corner.

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The Great Blue Herons again.

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Glovers Pond. You can see more geese taking up residence on the central island.

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Parts of Lagoon peeking up.

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The pond from the north end. You can see Goose Egg Island in the background.

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Geese nesting on the island.

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I caught a Great Blue Heron landing. Fun little sequence.

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The south trail head.

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And the trail we decided to take for our return trip. Which probably will not get another visit.

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The trail is in the same condition. Wide gravel path. But it looks like we are going to be hiking between the ranch and houses again pretty quickly.

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Okay it wasn’t a complete bust. We got to enjoy another hawk.

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Here it is investigating some.. are those roosters? Likely, there are quite a few farms around.

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Either way, it decided against them.

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Looks like it found something more appetizing.

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Ready to strike.

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Bam!

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And off to find the next meal. I really enjoy watching these guys on the prowl!

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Back to the trail.

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Antelope Island again.

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Random daffodil patch.

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After crossing a road, the trail does enter the neighborhood, and then takes a sharp turn to the east.

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There is a trail split and you can continue going east towards some more wetlands if you want, but we decided to keep making our way back to the car, so north it was.

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Another horse.

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Powerlines for days. You will basically follow these back to the parking lot. And yes, you can hear the buzz.

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The pidgins don’t seem to mind.

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Random tower.

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Another horse.

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Now the trail is between houses and the power lines.

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The 2nd street crossing.

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Little bridge.

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Not 100% sure, but it looks like a divergent channel from possibly Haight Creek to fill the 1st pond from earlier.

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Neat little buffalo design on the bridge.

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Even if the backyards weren’t far to the right, hiking under power lines is not particularly my cup of tea.

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WHOA!!!! They do still exist!!!! When I was little all the neighborhood kids built fun little bike tracks with hills and jumps and curves like this. I honestly can’t say the last time I saw one, but here we are. Hooray! I am glad to see that kids do still go outside and do stuff.

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And we made it back to the parking lot, which is across from the main Buffalo Ranch entrance.

Well that was a fun adventure! I definitely preferred the west Great Salt Lake Shoreline trail and not so much the East Buffalo Ranch Section, even though I do appreciate having the loop option.

So, The Great Salt Lake Shoreline Trail: Fantastic views, loads of wildlife from frogs to birds, and a possible chance of seeing other small mammals. Much less neighborhood noise, but have to deal with a little bit of the Buffalo Ranch Trail to get to it. 8 out of 10 squirrels.

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The Buffalo Ranch Trail, at least the section we did was mostly along peoples backyards (and you definitely see and hear them enjoying their backyards which feels a little intrusive). Not to mention the power lines. Weee. I didn’t hate it as much as I did the Haight Creek Trail, but it was not particularly great. I don’t think I will return. 4 out of 10 squirrels.

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For the full loop I’ll split the difference at 6 squirrels.

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As for difficulty, both trails are level, wide, gravel paths. Barely any climbing and not much to worry about. Going with a DR2.

Dogs: Not sure. When I can’t verify it for sure, I generally lean towards no. Also, be advised if you do decide to stray into the Great Salt Lake Nature Center they are not allowed between March 1st and September 16th.

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