Major Drainage Improvements on Triple Tree Trail

August 21, 2020

It’s not enough to build new trails; we must also care for what we have. This year in particular, this bit of trail wisdom could not ring more true. Since we cut the ribbon on the Painted Hills Connector Trail two years ago, the trail that begins at the Bozeman Public Library and through the foothills of Bozeman, nine miles to the top of the Triple Tree loop, has seen a steady stream of hikers, mountain bikers and trail runners.

A wet spring, and heavy use due to Covid-19, have produced some undesirable trail conditions along this Main Street to the Mountains route. Our trails team has been out often, deploying dozens of volunteers, clearing drainage features, and removing obstacles from the trail corridor throughout the year. But sometimes you have break out the “Big Guns.”

Enter Ted and Shana Wood with Wildwood Trails, who began using their mini excavator the week of August 10th to improve drainage in the Triple Tree trail network. They did extensive work in the wet area on the east side of the upper trail loop to divert water off the trail, and they removed numerous large roots. They completed two short, but important, trail relocations that will help you avoid some low lying areas that have proven to be perpetual mud pits well into the summer. These improvements are key to a better hiking and mountain biking experience.

One of those relocations, on the north side of Triple Tree near the footbridge, is already open and working well. The other is near the bottom of the upper “loop.” On Saturday, crews from 2% For Conservation and SITKA Gear will be working to clear vegetation, remove roots, and massage the tread into a new section of trail worthy of your boots and bike tires.

But we’re not stopping there. As we move north along the route, Wildwood and GVLT will be reworking drainage and trail tread in the Painted Hills neighborhood, where conditions can be particularly challenging in the spring. Then, we’ll head to Highland Glen to work some more trail into shape.

This is all part of an effort to create more permanent solutions designed to drain moisture from the trail, decreasing erosion, “cupping” and rutting of the trail tread, and increasing the length of the summer trail season along this incredible route.

Sound like fun? If you’re interested in volunteering on a project like this, contact our Conservation Fellow Stephen at GVLT has a strict protocol for keeping our volunteers safe, and we are currently have space for individuals and corporate groups. Thanks to all our volunteers who have helped keep our trails safe and accessible over the years. It takes a community of committed trail stewards to keep a trail system so expansive in such good shape!