Connecting to Public Lands: Path to the M and Drinking Horse Construction Begins
The much anticipated Path to the M and Drinking Horse is ready to begin construction this spring. This important connection from town to our public lands to the north has been in the works for years. Big, visionary projects like this take many years and many partners to complete. In 2013, GVLT rallied partners to apply for a grant through the Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP) to fund a bicycle and pedestrian path from Bozeman to the Bridger Mountains, accessing the the Forest Service’s M Trail and Fish and Wildlife Service’s Drinking Horse Trail. The grant was approved and allocated $3.4 million to the construction of the path.
In 2012, GVLT and partners advocated for a $15 million Trails, Open Space and Parks (TOP) Bond which was overwhelmingly approved by voters. After securing funding from FLAP, GVLT submitted a proposal on behalf of the Path to the M and Drinking Horse project to the TOP program and $675,000 was awarded to match federal dollars for the project. The City of Bozeman and the Federal Highway Administration have been hard at work ever since, planning a route, negotiating trail easements, and selecting a contractor. After considerable effort and community support, the Path to the M and Drinking Horse will begin construction this spring. Construction is expected to last through the summer and be completed by mid-September.
The 2.1 mile route will run along the south side of Bridger Drive from Story Mill Road to end of the Headlands subdivision. It will cross Bridger Drive at Creekwood Drive and remain on the northside of the road, utilizing existing trails in the Creekwood subdivision. The new path will extend up on the north side of Bridger Drive from Creekwood to the M Trail with an underpass to access Drinking Horse Trail.
This path will provide trail connectivity to the new Story Mill Community Park, Depot Park, Story Mill Spur Trail, East Gallatin Recreation Area, Cherry River and the entire north side of Bozeman. Next year a trail will be constructed on Front Street, closing a critical connection that will connect the east/ west path along Oak St., across Rouse and into the Story Mill Spur Trail.
Trail enthusiasts should get ready for a great ride, run, or walk along the path and reduced parking congestion at two of Bozeman’s most popular trailheads.
As with any trail project, this path would not have been possible without a team of partners. Big thanks to City of Bozeman, Gallatin County, Western Transportation Institute, US Forest Service, Federal Highway Administration, Montana Department of Transportation, and Collin’s Coalition for coming together to connect our community to our public lands.