Path to the M and Drinking Horse Now Open
The much anticipated Path to the M and Drinking Horse will open with a ribbon cutting ceremony this Saturday, October 26, 2019. 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 working with a contractor on construction. After considerable effort, community support, and patience during construction, the Path to the M and Drinking Horse will finally be open to the public this weekend.
The 2.1 mile route runs along the south side of Bridger Drive from Story Mill Road to the end of the Headlands subdivision. It crosses Bridger Drive at Creekwood Drive and remains on the northside of the road. The new path extends up on the north side of Bridger Drive from Creekwood to the M Trail with a new pedestrian bridge across the creek and an underpass between the Drinking Horse and M trailheads.
The path provides trail connectivity to the new Story Mill Community Park, Depot Park, Story Mill Spur Trail, Glen Lake Rotary Park (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 will love the 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.