Bozeman mountain bikers have long craved a three-season destination close to town, and thanks to the tireless efforts of Bozeman’s Tim Hawke, they’re going to get their wish. The Bureau of Land Management has approved Tim’s proposal for 30 miles of trail at Copper City, a swath of scrub and rolling hills just north of Three Forks. The newly formed Southwest Montana Mountain Bike Association (SWMMBA) and Tim, who volunteers as SWMMBA’s Copper City project manager, will begin work on the trails this spring, hoping to have “shovels in dirt” as soon as the snow melts.
“We’re rolling out the project in three phases,” says Tim, “and hope to have 10 miles of trail built this year.” A big focus of the system will be on novice and intermediate bikers. “We want somewhere kids can go and ride their bikes,” he notes. Beyond the beginner offerings, there will also be downhill-specific trails, which isn’t to say that this is a bikes-only system; Tim has worked hard to ensure inclusivity, reminding runners and hikers that they’re welcome year-round.
So far, the project has been met with great enthusiasm from the Three Forks power structure. “The Copper City trail system will be an economic benefit to the businesses in and around Three Forks,” says Mayor Steve Hamilton. “Trail users will stop in to get gas, buy some groceries or equipment, and maybe even have a meal or two.” Wheat Montana founder Dean Folkvord sees the positives as well. “As owners of hospitality properties in the area (Sacajawea Hotel, Fort Three Forks Motel), and the Wheat Montana Bakery, we know that any recreational opportunity translates into economic success.