Murdock Trail: The paved road for outdoor enthusiasts

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Greg Askelson watches runners and cyclists exercise on the new Murdock Canal Trail from what used to be his private back yard in Highland. No more than five minutes go by at any point in the day without his privacy and solitude being interrupted.

Murdock Trail, prior to construction, was a dirt path next to a slow-moving canal. Local residents ran in the secluded area with minimal exposure to the residents who lived near the trail. Since the recent construction, the canal is now contained in a 16.5-foot-diameter pipe underground, and the dirt trail has been paved over.

Couples enjoy Orem's Murdock Trail, a popular trail for walking or exercising. Photo by Elliott Miller
Couples enjoy Orem’s Murdock Trail, a popular trail for walking or exercising. Photo by Elliott Miller

The new trail opened up to the public on May 18, 2013, and runs 17 miles from Orem to Lehi. Local residents have expressed mixed emotions about the new trail since its opening.

Derrik Jenkins, a 23-year-old industrial design student from Minden, Nevada, said he prefers the new trail over the old because of the added safety it provides for runners.

“This trail is nice because it’s close, convenient to access and safe,” Jenkins said. “It’s nice to not have to worry about some creeper hiding in the bushes. You can just run and feel safe.”

Murdock Trail also provides convenience services to runners and bicyclists, with bathrooms that have running water and electricity at every trail head. According to Jenkins there are mile markers on the trail to notify users of the distance they have gone along the way.

“I like the distance markers on the path,” Jenkins said. “It made it nice to keep track of how far I was running. They also worked great for doing speed workouts.”

William Taylor, a 27-year-old emergency management student at UVU, likes that there is plenty of space on the trail for everyone to enjoy and that he never feels crowded during his run. Taylor also highlighted benefits of the trail beyond his personal use.

“I like how it is now because it is more useful to the community as a whole because it is so versatile now,” Taylor said.

However, not everyone is a complete fan of the new Murdock Canal Trail. As athletes use the new trail, they come in close contact with property of local residents who have homes along the trail. Askelson voiced his concerns about security at his home.

“We have some security concerns now that there is a trail that anyone has access to that literally runs right through our back yard,” Askelson said.

Despite Askelson’s security issue with the trail, he said he prefers the new trail over the old because the old canal made water preservation difficult; but the new trail provides efficient water conservation. He also said he likes the new trail because he doesn’t have to worry about any drownings now that it is paved.

“No one’s going to drown on an asphalt trail, and unfortunately with the old trail that happened in the past,” Askelson said.

Overall, local residents seem pleased with the new trail in comparison with the old, regardless of the negative consequences the trail has brought.

“I think the benefits of the new trail outweigh the risks,” Askelson said.

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