SCLT board member Jim Sorenson scouts new trail routes near Bear Gulch during wildflower season. We can’t wait to help you explore this beautiful part of our Bighorns backyard!

With winter in the books and the “Grand Greening” of our beautiful Bighorns backyard beginning, it’s officially trail building time.

This year, SCLT will bring our brand of accessible, sustainable and fun single-track trail to an area of our community that had not had any before heading up the mountain to connect people with some truly breathtaking places at Red Grade Trails.

Before he hopped on the mini ex, SCLT Trail Builder/Construction Supervisor Ronnie Wagner took some time to talk about what will be the biggest build season we’ve undertaken.

A Wallop of a trail

This season’s first new trail is sure to pack a Wallop. That’s because we’re building north Sheridan’s first natural-surface trail in Malcolm Wallop Park.

“It’s a great spot for beginner access. You’ll be able to get out of your car and you’re right on single track,” Ronnie said of a trail he sees as a perfect entry for new bikers while also giving walkers and runners a fun alternative to concrete.

The trail will incorporate low grades as it winds its way for 1.3 miles through floodplain forest, open grassland, and Goose Creek while also traveling up a small hill for a scenic view of Malcolm Wallop Park and the North Gateway Conservation Easement within.

The trail will connect directly to existing Sheridan Pathways so you don’t have to travel specifically to Wallop Park to enjoy it. Ronnie said he also plans to include a few features for advanced cyclists, though, those features can be easily bypassed by any visitor.

“It’s more natural and good a break from the paved pathways,” he concluded.

SCLT Trail Builder/Construction Supervisor Ronnie Wagner snapped this picture as he and Tami and Brad scouted trail routes between Poverty Flats and Bear Gulch last summer. They’ve laid out routes that take visitors to dramatic lookouts of the Goose Valley and prairie below within a half mile of the trailhead.

From Poverty Flats to Bear Gulch

As soon as the mountain’s melted, some of our most exciting work will commence with an ambitious expansion of Red Grade Trails.

By summer’s end, about 10 miles of shared-use trail with two trailheads and parking areas that will connect the gorgeous terrain of Poverty Flats to Bear Gulch.

But don’t let the distance fool you. Within a half mile of your vehicle, you’ll find sweeping overlooks of Goose Valley below.

“They will be a super, natural experience,” Ronnie relayed.

Though his description of the trails that are planned wasn’t intended to evoke the ethereal, a day spent traveling through dense pine, alongside sheer sandstone walls and through hidden wildflower meadows is sure to raise the spirit of anyone who visits.

Rather, Ronnie explained how he’ll be utilizing material sourced from the mountain to create trails that are easier to maintain and more fun to use. For example, he said rock armoring will replace wooden boardwalks, which, over time, require more time and money to maintain.

How will so much work be done in so little time? Ronnie will be assisted by a group of AmeriCorps members who, through a partnership with Antelope Butte Foundation, split time between teaching and creating outdoor recreation opportunities. All the while, Gumption Trail Works will be putting their skills to work so most of the Red Grade Trails expansion can be completed within one build season.

All of this is possible only because of such tremendous community support. That support has Ronnie excited to share the gift of the outdoors with everyone who lives, works, plays and stays in Sheridan County.

“I’m stoked by all of the support in our community. Trail use has really taken off,” he relayed and expressed his appreciation for so many helpful friends. “We’ve seen substantial growth in people wanting to help and ‘phantom volunteers’ taking care of downed trees and other little things. I’m thankful for all of those people because it helps keep me on the machine building trail for you.”