Bozeman is getting a new single-track trail that can be used year-round for hiking, biking and Nordic skiing.
The Gallatin Valley Land Trust is building a roughly 4-mile trail this summer in the gulch area east of Bozeman Deaconess Hospital near the existing winter ski trails.
“The hospital has been very generous about letting people use the ski trails in the winter and this will add to that,” Penelope Pierce, executive director of GVLT, said Wednesday.
The trail will start behind the surgical center across Highland Boulevard from the hospital. From there, it will run south to Kagy Boulevard and loop back around, crossing a tributary to Rocky Creek three times.
Adding to the Main Street to the Mountains trail system, the new trail will make it possible to go from the Bozeman Public Library to the Painted Hills Trail without using sidewalks or roads.
The Main Street to the Mountains trail system will be 67 miles long, connecting Main Street to the Bridger Mountains to the north and to the Gallatin Mountains to the south. GVLT has been working for years to complete the system and there are only a few gaps left.
The hospital owns the land where the trail will be built and where the existing winter ski trails are located. The nonprofit GVLT has raised money and is recruiting volunteers to build the trail, and the city of Bozeman has agreed to manage the trail.
On Monday, the Bozeman City Commission signed an agreement with GVLT and the hospital for the new, public, non-motorized trail. GVLT is responsible for providing signage and fencing, controlling noxious weeds, picking up litter, and otherwise maintaining the trail. The city is responsible for enforcing laws on public trails, assisting with parking issues, and ensuring the trail doesn’t interfere with area neighborhoods.
“It’s a great example of partnerships - partnering with the city, partnering with our local land trust, GVLT, and the local hospital,” said Mitch Overton, city director of parks and recreation. “And, it certainly fits everyone’s missions of providing outdoor opportunities and areas for health and wellness.”
The hospital has retained the land to potentially provide for expansion of health services as Bozeman grows. But in the meantime, it’s a place for people to play.
“Our mission is to improve community health and quality of life, and this is one way for us to encourage and support healthy lifestyles in the community,” said Cheryl Ridgely, chief strategy and business development officer for Bozeman Deaconess.
Every year, on the first Saturday in June, volunteers with the nonprofit GVLT join communities across the nation in celebrating National Trails Day by helping to build and to maintain Bozeman’s Main Street to the Mountains trail system.
This year, on June 1, volunteers will help build the new trail by the hospital, as well as maintain nearby trails in Lindley Park. More volunteers are needed.
The city and the Montana Conservation Corps will provide equipment, and the MCC and outdoor retailer REI will send employees to help.
GVLT has already started work on the new trails, with culverts being installed along Bozeman Creek.
“We’re so excited,” Pierce said. “It’s such a great example of community partners making things happen for the benefit of the whole community.”