You must visit the Bear Canyon Suspension Bridge on the east side of Draper! It’s a moderate climb with switchback trails to visit this cool bridge that was built just five years ago. It spans 185 feet across Bear Canyon and connects to the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. Walk across, feel the gentle sway, and enjoy the fabulous views overlooking the Greater Salt Lake City area to the west.
Bear Canyon Suspension Bridge Is Popular
Word has definitely gotten out about the trail and suspension bridge. There were a lot of visitors the weekday we went in March 2020. Everyone else had the same idea to break free from coronavirus social distancing and take to the great outdoors. We didn’t mind the heavy use but did have to step aside for several bikers.
Despite the fact that the trail can be crowded, we still recommend you visit. The views to the west are incredible. We took our time climbing the switchbacks and enjoyed the scenery. It’s fun to spot well-known landmarks in the distance and view them from a grander scale.
Kid Friendly Hike
The hike to the Bear Canyon Suspension Bridge is kid friendly, and we saw a lot of them there. A few parts are a bit steep, but kids and adults alike seemed to manage everything just fine. Don’t be in a rush, stop when you need to, and go at your own pace. We saw moms with little kids racing up and down. We also saw moms chasing those little kids if they got too close to a trail edge. Overall, there are no super steep dropoffs, and the area seemed safe to us.
The trail is well marked; just follow any sign that mentions the bridge or trail loop. If you wander onto the Shoreline Trail, you could go on for miles. It follows the shoreline of the ancient Lake Bonneville. Maybe save that excursion for another day.
We followed the loop trail, and in a seemingly short time, we arrived at the bridge. It was fun to see! My youngest had been studying suspension bridges at school and was so excited to see a real one. While crossing it, he realized that it gently swayed, which isn’t something he’d understood before in class. Also, he thought it was pretty to cool to see up close how the bridge is put together.
Bear Canyon Suspension Bridge Has Wow Factor
We came with family, and we’ll be going back with more family. We all agreed that this doable hike and cool bridge are worth going back for.
It was a perfect day to spend with cousins. Think of whom you might invite to enjoy this trail experience with you. Use it as a learning excursion, get some exercise, and just enjoy being together.
I do not like heights, but this bridge is so solidly built that I had no problem crossing it and feeling safe in doing so. Usually, activities involving steep overlooks really bother me. Somehow this one didn’t.
Seeing up close how the bridge is put together is pretty interesting. Some of the construction concept seems simple (see image below), but I left wondering how crews got all the materials up the trail. Did they assemble parts of the bridge earlier? Was it all constructed onsite? We don’t know the answers, but it leads to an interesting discussion and appreciation for engineering talents.
Heading back down, we crossed the bridge and took the downward loop trail back to the trailhead park. There’s another trail that goes up the mountain, but you want the downward one. So continue the loop; don’t go back the way you came. You’ll want to experience the whole trail.
All in all, it was a great hike to share with an aunt and cousin. We’ll definitely go back with Dad another time. This is a great hike for spring or fall. If you go in the summer, we recommend morning or evening. This trail would be very hot in the summertime. There is no shade.
Tips for Your Visit to Bear Canyon Suspension Bridge
- Directions: Head east on 12300 S in Draper. Turn south on Pioneer Road. Follow until you see the sign below to enter the Orson Smith Trail Head Park. We recommend you use Google Maps. They take you right there with no problems. Just type in Bear Canyon Suspension Bridge directions.
- Trail is a loop. Total distance is about 2.3 miles. Moderate level.
- Bridge shouldn’t be accessed during high winds. Signs near the bridge warn visitors to be safe. Bikers should dismount when crossing the bridge.
- Leashed dogs are allowed on the trail, but posted signs ask you to pick up after your pet. Still, there was a lot of poop along the trail. It would be so helpful if every pet owner came prepared to obey this rule. Unfortunately, there are no trash receptacles or bag stations along the trail, only at the park at the trailhead.
- Bikers are allowed on the trail. Many go fast. Watch out for them.
- Bathrooms are available and are furnished with necessities and running water. Well maintained.
- Drinking fountains available.
- Small play area with climbing rock.
- 4 picnic tables, 2 covered.
- Parking lot can fill up. Just be patient for a spot to open up.
- Bring plenty of water or fill up at the fountains near the bathrooms.
- Sunscreen and/or hats are helpful in milder seasons and a must during summer heat.
We were not at all prepared for how popular and busy this park and trailhead are. Perhaps our visit was unique. Normal weekdays would probably be the perfect time to go. That said, we’ve heard that the area is pretty busy on weekends and whenever school is out. Still, it’s a vast area to cover, and there were times when we enjoyed parts of the trail to ourselves.
Save this one for future reference. We’d hate for you to somehow miss it.