The High Road

The High Road

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Lange, Ted

The East Gallatin Recreation Area on Bozeman’s north side contains some of the valley’s most popular trails—residents come to immerse themselves in the beauty of the river, its shimmering green cottonwood and aspen forest, and its cascade of birdsong. But more than a decade after these trails were first constructed, it’s clear that several sections need to be given back to the forest or the river. The challenge is how to replace them with something more sustainable and long-lasting.

If you've hiked or skied this area recently, you may have noticed the yellow tape blocking off a new section of trail south of the steel bridge. Built by the City Parks Department and Gallatin Valley Land Trust (GVLT) last fall, this reroute follows high ground above the usual flood level. In the middle of this new trail is a disturbed area where GVLT’s contractor began digging the footings for a 45-foot section of boardwalk across one of the river’s many side channels that fill with spring floodwater. This is the first of two significant reroutes planned for this year, thanks to funding from the Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks Recreational Trails Program and a Bozeman Parkland Improvement Grant.

The second reroute, located north of the steel bridge, will require approximately 140 feet of boardwalk as there is little or no high ground in this area. Installing a boardwalk rather than digging a trail through the woods keeps plant roots undisturbed and low-growing vegetation intact, thereby preventing erosion and keeping the trail from becoming a stream channel during high water. The downside, of course, is cost.

GVLT estimates the total combined cost for the two reroutes at nearly $50,000. Approximately $19,000 in cash and in-kind donations still needs to be raised to complete the second reroute. Once the reroutes are complete, approximately 560 feet of old trail will be closed and reclaimed. To view a map, photos, and project updates, visit and click on Trails.

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