Tell me, Tallie
How did Big Sky trails evolve? Part Two.
By Tallie Lancey
Change is afoot. Especially when you consider the narrative arc of Big Sky’s trail network.
In my last column, we explored the legacy of a man who’s credited with creating our off-road pathways, Bill Olson. Not too long ago, Big Sky’s interest in trails was lukewarm. He sought to change that.
Now we know in our hearts and on our balance sheets, trails are of great value. Residents and visitors love our parks and pathways; in some case they even love them to death, as the saying goes. Without question, connectivity has become part of our community’s identity.
To understand where we’re headed next, it’s critical to consider our history. Due to a dramatic miniseries of land swaps between the Forest Service and a few private individuals in the latter part of last century, our local resorts own all of the land upon which they operate. This is an important distinction between Big Sky and nearly every other ski area in the country; everyone else operates within the confines of strict Forest Service land leases. For better and for worse, Big Sky does not.
As it pertains to our local trail development, this means that private landowners retain sole discretion. No red tape! On the other hand, it also means no reliable source of funds to improve or maintain trails.
Big Sky Resort is investing 2 new mountain biking trails accessed by Swift Current, bringing their total to 9 cross country and downhill trails. They have grown their lessons and guided offerings, which makes the sport accessible to more people.
Pete Costain is the mastermind behind Terraflow Trails, the brains and brawn responsible for Hummocks and Uplands, Fish Camp, Snake Charmer, and more.
When I asked Costain what he sees in Big Sky’s future, he visualized major stakeholders will buy-in over time to the value of trail investment. Giving credit where it’s due, he noted that CrossHarbor and Lone Mountain Land Company have been visionary in both granting easements and funding construction. The famed Mountain to Meadow mountain biking flow trail is one example of their successful vision, in cooperation with Big Sky Resort.
He forecasts Big Sky as an interconnected, collaborative, on-trail recreation destination. Multiple distant base areas would be linked via multi-user trails and then to populated neighborhoods and then ultimately to Forest Service trailheads where the adventure begins. His sense of optimism is infectious.
Join in his zeal on National Trails Day on June 3rd. It marks the official unveiling of Ralph’s Pass, which is BSCO’s newest trail achievement. Years in the making, this trail’s story has many authors and will be enjoyed by all. This summer, BSCO will reveal their Master Plan for Parks & Trails to be adopted by homeowners associations, zoning districts, and county administrators.
As with so many things in Big Sky, if you want to see improvements in your community, it’s best to take Michael Jackson’s advice: “If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, and make a change.”