Whitefish Trails Move Forward

By Beacon Staff

On Lion Mountain, a line of orange and blue flagging leads off into a bramble of brush and criss-crossed downed timber. The flagging cuts across private land, national forest, and state lands. Five miles west, the flagged route pops out onto a spur connecting with Two Bear Road and continues on several more miles to Beaver Lake.

“It’s a really walkable and rideable trail,” says David Noftsinger, a partner in Forestoration, Inc., a subcontractor responsible for designing the path for A Trail Runs Through It. Forestoration is part of the bigger design team of local engineers, landscape architects, water quality specialists, and botanists working on the trail.

The 40- to 48-inch-wide trail will begin with a quarter-mile ADA path. Accessed via one of three parking lots with restrooms, the route winds through ten miles with an easy five to eight percent grade. “We want the trail to duck in and out of nuances in the landscape,” says Noftsinger. “There’s one tricky section through a cliff band, but we think we have a solution.”

While Noftsinger flagged the trail, the DNRC has been logging state lands. “The state has gone out of its way to accommodating our needs with the logging,” adds Noftsinger.

With $100,000 donated by landowner Michael Goguen, design work on the trail leapt ahead. But several land agreements still need to be sealed to proceed with construction, including Goguen’s remaining promised $3 million gift to the community to build and manage the recreation loop and conserve state lands once a land swap with the Department of Natural Resources is completed.

The City and Flathead Gateway Partners, who recently signed an agreement on Sept. 19 to re-appoint a steering committee to oversee trail development, hope to bring on the shovels this next spring. The committee is hosting an open house on Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2008 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the Whitefish City Council Chambers, 418 East Second Street. The public is invited to drop in to get updates on the project and give comments. Representatives will also be on hand from the DNRC and the Forest Service.

More information is available at www.trailrunsthroughit.org.

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