Yellowstone Heritage Trail Along the Historic Elk River: A Feasibility Study
The Yellowstone Heritage Trail feasibility study will identify alternatives to complete a multi-use trail through Paradise Valley between Livingston and Gardiner. The study will evaluate the physical conditions within the corridor area and potential costs associated with each alignment. The study will provide recommended future actions to guide the development of the Yellowstone Heritage Trail, which is a key section of the cross-country Great American Rail-Trail (more information below).
In March 2021, Park County applied for Western Federal Lands (WFL) – Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP) funding to support a project to improve access to the areas served by Old Yellowstone Trail South, a roadway that traverses through Custer Gallatin National Forest and the Yellowstone River drainage, connecting also to Yellowstone National Park lands. Funding for this project was obligated (at 100% funding) in March 2022 and Park County is currently working with WFL to finalize design and priorities of the project. Primary project activities will include road improvements from Arch Park at YNP, trailhead formalization and improvements, trail connection and improvements and recreational site and interpretive signage installation. The project will improve, enhance and protect public health and safety; emergency access; recreational opportunities; and, environmental and cultural resources.
This segment of the trail will end at the Point of Rocks Fishing Access site, the southern boundary of new Feasibility Assessment.
The goals of the Yellowstone Heritage Trail feasibility study will be to:
- Evaluate options for creating a separated multiuse trail facility
- Identify opportunities to protect cultural and natural resources that make the corridor unique
- Balance visitor experience with landowner property rights
- Provide opportunities to address the overuse of existing recreational assets
Project Area Map
What is the Great American Rail-Trail?
The Great American Rail-Trail is a project of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy to connect a multi-use trail across the country along former railroad beds. The route is over 54% complete with more than 2,030 miles completed on the ground. RTC works with its partners around the country, like Park County, Montana, to fill the remaining gaps in the route. Completing the Yellowstone Heritage Trail is considered the catalyst initiative along the Great American Rail-Trail in Montana, meaning that RTC considers it to be a vital project that will help catalyze trail development in the state, which is why RTC is funding this feasibility study.