Workin' for the Weekend

Caring for our trails. 

Ever wonder who keeps your favorite Forest Service trails clear and open for use? It’s no easy task. The Custer-Gallatin National Forest has approximately 3,118 miles of trail, 903 miles in Bozeman’s back yard alone. Behind the scenes, the Bozeman Forest Service trail crews and local volunteer groups work year-round to keep this system safe and open to the public.

Last year alone, Forest Service crews, Wilderness Rangers, OHV/Snow Rangers, and local volunteer groups logged out, maintained, and improved many of these routes. These groups were responsible for bridge repairs on both Middle Cottonwood and Hyalite trails. Volunteers and agency crews kept busy installing trail signs in the Porcupine and Yellowmule drainages, and cutting down and removing countless hazardous trees and rocks from the Buck Ridge, East Fork Hyalite, and Hidden Lakes areas, greatly reducing hazards. Crews also spent many hours constructing new routes such as the two miles of trail that make up the North Cottonwood Access trail in the northern Bridgers. Additionally, 2.5 miles of new trail were added to the Wheeler Gulch drainage. Volunteer groups alone contributed over 4,000 hours of labor on trail maintenance and improvement projects.

Projects you may encounter this season include bridge improvements to the South Cottonwood trail, trail tread improvements on Buck Ridge, and new ATV routes in the Little Bear area. So when you’re enjoying our trail system, whatever the season may be, say thanks to these hard working individuals who help maintain some of the greatest trail opportunities in the Valley. Better yet, volunteer some of your time. If you are interested, contact the Bozeman Ranger District at 522-2520 for more information.

For current trail information, follow the West Side Gallatin Trails Alliance and Custer-Gallatin National Forest on Facebook.

Brian McNeil is the Bozeman and Hebgen Lake districts trails and wilderness program manager.