The Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve is a fantastic family hike on a boardwalk loop surrounded by tall wetland grasses and wildlife. This trail offers a unique glimpse into the ecosystem of the Great Salt Lake without having to get your feet wet. It is a great educational trail for children and adults of all abilities and is suitable for strollers and wheelchairs.


The trailhead is located on 3200 West, approximately 1 mile south of Gentile Street in Layton, Utah. From the signed entrance, drive another quarter mile on the dirt road to the parking area (41.042531,-112.026395).

Restrooms are located approximately 100 yards from the parking area.

The Hike

The hike begins by following a gravel path to a boardwalk that leads to a large pavilion, approximately 300 yards from the parking area. With its soaring canopies and unique architecture, the pavilion is a destination in itself. It is loaded with exhibits and information, making it a great place to stop and learn about the Great Salt Lake wetland ecosystem before beginning the boardwalk loop.

From the pavilion, you can choose to walk the loop in either direction. As you walk along the boardwalk, you will pass more exhibits offering information about nearly everything you see around you, from the thousands of migratory birds that visit each year, to the native plants and grasses, to the tiny brine shrimp that thrive in the waters of the Great Salt Lake.

Near the far end of the loop, the boardwalk arrives at an impressive 30-foot observation tower (41.036482,-112.028885), which offers a fascinating bird’s-eye view of the surrounding landscape. As the boardwalk climbs into the tower, a sign marks the most recent high water mark of the Great Salt Lake, which was last reached in the 1980s. It is interesting to see that nearly the entire boardwalk preceding this point would be several feet under water if the lake were at that same level today. The top of the tower is only reachable by stairs, but strollers and wheelchairs may access the mid-level that still offers excellent views.

After leaving the tower, continue on the loop back to the pavilion and to the parking area. Round trip distance from the parking area is approximately 1.4 miles.

Rules and Regulations

The Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve is operated by the Nature Conservancy and is open to the public at no charge. The preserve is open 7 days per week with varying hours depending on time of year.

April - September: 7 a.m.-8 p.m.

October – March: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

  • No pets.
  • No bicycles or skateboards.
  • Detailed rules and regulations are posted at the start of the trail.

Special Considerations

During warm weather, mosquitoes and other biting insects may be a nuisance. Wear long sleeves and pants and/or bug repellent, if necessary.


This trail guide is provided by Backcountry Post.