Painted Hills Gap Complete, Main Street Now Connected to Mountains

“We’ll be more than a little proud on that summer day in the not-too-distant future when we’re able to walk the nearly ten miles of trail from Lindley Park to public land in the Hyalites and say ‘Main Street to Mountains- We did it!”

That’s from a 1994 Gallatin Valley Land Trust (GVLT) newsletter, four years into Chris Boyd’s wild and ambitious vision to connect Bozeman’s Main Street to the public lands in the mountains. As the founder of GVLT, Chris had lots of big ideas. His passion and love for this place were contagious and he quickly organized a dedicated corps of volunteer staff, board members and supporters.

In the early years, Chris and the team were making swift strides to build parks and trails and conserve open land in the area. In the first few years of its existence, GVLT worked with the City of Bozeman and the Burke Family to secure its first flagship project, Burke Park, also referred to as Peets Hill.

Other puzzle pieces of the Main Street to the Mountains vision came together over the years, bit by bit.  In the mid-1990’s GVLT played a critical role in the creation of the Triple Tree Trail.  Soon after the New Hyalite View (or tree streets) and Painted Hills Subdivision built sections of the trail in their neighborhoods.  Later in 2006, the new Bozeman Public Library built a trail from Main Street to the Burke Park parking lot and the Gallagator Trail.  As Chris Boyd once wrote in a GVLT newsletter, “Just as Rome was not built in a day, trail projects like Main Street to the Mountains are often completed piece by piece.”

But there was one elusive gap, one missing connection in Chris’s vision. The Painted Hills Trail was a dead end. GVLT staff and Board Members tried for years to coordinate with landowners along the gap to move forward on the trail together.  Finally, 28 years after the Main Street to Mountains concept was conceived, GVLT secured the necessary trail easements to close the gap through State of Montana DNRC land, private land, and GVLT conserved land. Construction has taken place over the last month with the help of numerous volunteer groups and generous financial support from community members.

It is with great pleasure and anticipation, standing on the shoulders of many who have worked tirelessly before us, that we announce that the Painted Hills Gap is complete and Main Street in Bozeman, Montana is now connected, by 8.2 miles of trails, to the top of the Triple Tree Trail in the Gallatin Range. Friday September 21st is the first day the trail is officially open for you, the community to enjoy. Tomorrow, September 22nd is also National Public Lands Day so we invite you to celebrate our community’s unparalleled recreational access by walking, biking, or running from Main Street to the Mountains.

In our quickly growing community you may find yourself fearful about losing the things you love about this place. Don’t fret.  Many people have been working tirelessly for a long time to ensure that it doesn’t happen.  28 years ago a group of people who loved this place got together to plan for the growth and change we’re experiencing today and we’re still pursuing their vision. We’re also hatching big ideas of our own that will protect the place you know and love. Piece by piece, parcel by parcel, with you by our side, we can safeguard the future for the next generations.  It won’t be easy, but with a community that cares, we know it can be done. Chris’s words years ago about the challenges of the Painted Hills connector trail ring ever true. It is the pep talk he’d give the Gallatin Valley if he were still here. “We’ll need to keep our wits about us for some tough solutions ahead. We’ll need to remember as well that we are most human when we learn to get along with others and with the land we choose (or are invited) to walk upon”.