Bridger Ski Foundation (BSF), in partnership with Gallatin Valley Land Trust and Bozeman Health, is testing out the expansion and maintenance of winter multi-use trails in Highland Glen.
While the traditional groomed ski trails in Highland Glen remain dog-free and ski-only during the winter, there’s now an expanded route for those on foot, snowshoes, and bikes in the winter (as well as on-leash dogs). Three years ago, BSF piloted a small section of multi-use trail, with a vision of eventually creating a larger network that could give a clear route for non-skiers who wanted to spend time in Highland Glen. BSF has packed down and marked that new route, which mainly follows the perimeter of Highland Glen, creating 6.2 km (just under 4 miles) to explore.
Trails Manager Dan Cantrell explained, "The primary goal of this trail is to continue to support outdoor, active & healthy lifestyles, community connectivity, and give other user groups opportunities to access Highland Glen Nature Preserve in the winter. That said, another major underlying goal is to help prevent damage to our groomed ski trails from foot, bike and dog traffic by offering an alternative." The trail also aligns with Bozeman Health's long-term access and park space plan for Highland Glen.
The multi-use routes have orange flagging and allow skiing, snowshoeing, walking, biking, and on-leash dogs. BSF will groom/pack it down with snowmobiles when possible. We’re pleased to report that the new BSF snowmobiles are game for climbing the route to the east ridge (something our older equipment can not do). We’ve added the multi-use trail to the BSF grooming map (it appears as a dotted line).
Most of this multi-use trail follows the outside of the fence around Highland. Again, groomed ski trails inside the fence remain ski-only. However, there are a several sections where the multi-use and ski trails share space side-by-side, and multi-users will be recreating to the side of the groomed ski trail. Please be sure to stay on the edge and off set tracks in these areas (foot prints and ruts in the groomed ski trail are bad etiquette.) There are also a few spots where the multi-use trail will cross the ski trail; users should cross directly.
Maintenance: sections of this trail will receive varying maintenance from BSF. (Sections that share space with the ski trail will receive grooming when the ski trail is groomed. Expect other sections to be packed down primarily after storms.)
Skiers: you can help make this a success with your Ski Kind attitudes. Give a friendly hello when the trails are side-by-side. If you see multi-users wandering onto the ski-only trail, be friendly and help them find the orange markers for the multi-use trail. This is a great shared resource, and we're excited to find a way to help everyone enjoy it.
Multi-users: you can help make the multi-use trail a success by encouraging others to stay on the trail, follow the orange trail markings and adhere to the guidelines for Highland Glen recreation (which include keeping dogs on leash).
New trails and multi-use trails come with a learning curve and require patience. Please spread the word, be kind, and if you discover missing signage or trail markers, please let us know! (We seem to have a few sign thieves out there.)
If you enjoy these trails, please consider a BSF Trail Membership to support the grooming and maintenance of both the ski trails and multi-use trails. (These winter trails are possible because of a plucky BSF trail crew, a bunch of donations and trail memberships, and your support.)
Curious why the ski trails are “ski traffic only” at Highland Glen? There are several reasons. In town trails, and Highland Glen in particular, are often subject to low snow and a lot of freeze and thaw cycles. In fact, this year, there have been times that the snow pack has been too low to groom and we risk turning up dirt and grass into the snow. Bike ruts and footprints can do a lot of damage to the groomed surface very quickly, especially when the snow is soft and later hardens. It makes for rough/poor skiing, especially on those steep hills and intersections. That damage requires a big snowcat to till down and fix (we call the snowcat our PistenBully). However, you need a significant snowpack to run the PistenBully (and it’s also our most expensive piece of equipment to operate). While traditional ski areas can open/close trails to certain users based on conditions, we don’t have that capability (or a staffing capacity) to do that at Highland Glen. This is how we keep quality skiing with variable conditions/temps, the nature of the open trail system, and a very limited budget (that wholly relies on fundraising).
With the community’s cooperation, we believe that these additional multi-use trails around Highland and up onto the ridge are a great way for everyone to fully enjoy the resource and still have a quality ski surface, as well as a way to navigate on foot and bike.
5 pm at Sunset Hills
We invite all BSF families, trail members, and community friends to come over to Lindley Center for the Valentine's Relay FUNSKI. Race, cheer, or volunteer! This is all ages & abilities!
In addition to the hilarious relay event, our Ambassador Board will be there with fires, s'mores, adult beverages, hot cocoa, a raffle, and a photo booth.
5PM at Sunset Hills (Lindley)
It's time to get those trail passes for the winter! But you might notice we're saying "trail membership" this year. Here's why!
We're introducing membership levels for trail supporters. This community does something special by coming together to collectively fund the grooming of these trails. We wanted to give you a membership model that reflects that you're part of this incredible ski community.
What's the same?
Y'all still get a trail pass with your membership. The cost for an individual membership ($75) and a basic family membership ($150) will be exactly the same as they were for the trail passes last year! And it's all still voluntary. If you can't afford it, the trails are still open. If you can, pay it forward.
We added a few more perks for membership. All members get a vote at the BSF annual meeting and free, early entry to the BSF Ski Swap. Plus we added a variety of levels, so people can support the winter trails at a level that works for them. These levels offer additional perks, such as mugs and special events.
About those passes:
We're working with a local printer this year who will mail trail passes and your trail sticker to you. They'll send these out in batches, approximately every 2 weeks. (If you purchase your pass at the BSF office, Chalet, Roundhouse or Bangtail, you can collect your pass in person.) If you need a lanyard for your pass, just swing by the BSF office!