The Homestead Connector

October 21, 2022

This past Wednesday afternoon, nearly 30 volunteers gathered on the northeastern side of the Highland Glen Nature Preserve to put the finishing touches on a new trail in partnership with Bozeman Health. This new trail is called “The Homestead Connector” and it completes a loop that connects from the Wellness Trail to the East Ridge Trail of Highland Glen.  Earlier in the week, Wildwood Trails used a mini excavator to lay trail tread. The new Connector is roughly 1,000 feet long and 40 inches wide, and Wildwood was able to finish the heavy dirt work in about a day.

“Wildwood completed 150 feet of trail tread in an hour and a half,” GVLT Trails Project Manager Lulu Herrera said. “That would have taken a hand crew with tools at least three days to finish.”

Once the initial tread was laid out, volunteers were invited to the last GVLT Community Trail Volunteer event of the season to help complete the trail. They worked to redistribute dirt to create a 45-degree angle slope to encourage the regrowth of vegetation and make the trail appear wider. Runners, hikers, and bikers rode by on the nearby Wellness Connector, stopping to chat with GVLT staff about the new trail.

“This is awesome!” one trail-user said. “Now I won’t have to double-back on the Wellness Connector to get back to my starting point. I can take the loop all the way around.”

The Homestead Connector overlooks the historical homestead at Highland Glen, with the original weathered barn and outbuildings still standing on the property. For nearly 150 years, families such as the Kings, Knutsons, and Molendyks had farmed this landscape, while current farming and ranching lessees, Darrell Kurk and Vaughn Kraft, both descendants of pioneer settlers in the Gallatin Valley, remind us that ‘if you take care of the land, it will take care of you.’ A subarea plan is currently in process to guide future development in the hospital-owned agriculture areas that surround Highland Glen on three-sides. Bozeman Health has committed to ensuring that the brilliant natural and recreational resource of Highland Glen will be a permanent part of whatever development is eventually constructed.  It was critical to complete the trail loop now so that when and if the area is developed, a complete trail system will be part of the final design.

Volunteers made quick work of smoothing out the trail and stopped by the GVLT volunteer tent to enjoy cookies and apple cider after their shifts. On Thursday morning, the GVLT Trails team put the finishing touches on the Homestead Connector, spreading grass seed and smoothing out a few rough patches. Now, this great new trail is officially open to the public and can be enjoyed in every season.

Funding for this project was provided by the Athletic Brewing Two for the Trails grant. We are so grateful to Athletic Brewing and Bozeman Health for supporting this project, Wildwood Trails for kicking off construction, and the volunteers that helped complete the trail. We’ll see you outside!