Happy first day of spring, y’all!
With Pi Day on Sunday and Stone Cold Day on Tuesday and St. Paddy’s Day on Wednesday, the spillin’ o’ green may finally spill somewhere other than out of my wallet.
And for that, I’m thankful. Also, for the crocuses I’ve seen poking up in people’s yards and the section of Little Goose I can cast into near my house; not so much for the retreating lake ice (we hardly knew ya’ Frozen Smetty).
But by the first day of spring, anyone with cabin fever has surely seen it break out into a full-fledged rash. And the only cure is a prescription of Vitamin Nature.
I’m pleased to report that Sheridan Community Land Trust has been working hard to ensure that our community’s dose of Vitamin Nature never runs out and that you can take your dose as often as you need. Shoot! Double your dose if you like.
Close to town, we’ve worked with some awesome community-minded partners and the City of Sheridan to develop the Soldier Ridge Trail System – which contains nearly 12 miles of natural-surface trail right on the west edge of town. With the completion of The Link and Kicking Horse Trail last fall, we were able to close a loop of nearly 10 miles that connects to the Sheridan Pathways, truly making it easier than ever before to go from your front door to the outdoors in Sheridan.
Have you visited Kicking Horse Trail or The Link? You’ll get gorgeous views of the Bighorns in a peaceful sage-steppe setting where the burrowing owls, mule deer and pronghorn you’re likely to encounter help you forget you’re little more than a stone’s throw away from the city proper.
The Link’s great for beginning mountain bikers, hikers, runners, walkers and anyone who’s looking for a people-powered dose of Vitamin Nature. Kicking Horse Trail, like Soldier Ridge, is open to all of those activities plus horses. If your favorite ride comes on four legs, then be sure to join us on Sunday, June 27 for our SCLT Discovery Session: Bring Your Own Horse Trailride on these trails led by Kristen Marcus of C.H.A.P.S.
You may be thinking, but I’m not even a beginning mountain biker, how can I enjoy your trails? And to that, I’d say, “Never fear! Mountain Bike Discovery Nights are almost here!” That’s right! This year’s rides begin on Thursday, May 27. Local experts from Antelope Butte Foundation and Sheridan Bicycle Co., will teach new and beginning riders the tips and tricks they’ll need to ride the trail here or anywhere. They’ll also lead intermediate and advanced groups. The first ride meets at Black Tooth Park and will ride from 6-8 p.m. There are nine Discovery Nights scheduled on different trails and varying terrains this summer, so if you miss the first one you won’t be missing out.
You may also be thinking your preferred way to get your dose of Vitamin Nature is more bipedal than biwheedal. If you’d rather beat feet, we’ve got options for you, too. On Tuesday, April 11, we’ll be at Soldier Ridge Trail for the SCLT Discovery Session: Hike Into History, where you’ll learn about how Native Indian Tribes used the land and resources around the ridge, the historic Bozeman Trail and the conflicts that arose between Plains Tribes and emigrants heading West from Sheridan College instructor Donovin Sprague. It will run from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.
This spring, visitors to Malcolm Wallop Park (formerly North Park) will soon see a new recreation option. Just this week, the Sheridan City Council approved SCLT’s plan to build 1.3 miles of natural surface trail that, too, will connect with existing Sheridan Pathways. It’ll be a fun, convenient option for anyone who wishes to get off the concrete and on to what we believe will quickly become a pleasantly beaten path. That trail should be ready by midsummer.
Once it’s ready, SCLT will move up the mountain to resume work on Red Grade Trails, where we were fortunate to break trail at Poverty Flats. Thanks to tremendous community members who contributed more than $130,000, the Wyoming Business Council ($500,000), the US Forest Service ($100,000), and National Forest Foundation ($18,000) shared our vision and chose to invest in this kind of “quality of life infrastructure” which makes Sheridan County such a special place to live, work, play, stay and grow. Because of that investment, SCLT will be able to carry out in a few short seasons what we originally envisioned as a build that’d take a decade or more.
That work will be split among two crews. Ronnie Wagner, SCLT Trail Builder/Construction Supervisor, along with a group of AmeriCorps members who’ve been teaching recreation for Antelope Butte Foundation, will build one set of trails. A contracted crew of certified trail builders will build another. By season’s end – and Mother Nature’s grace – about 10 miles and two parking lots should be built to create what will be the Poverty Flats and Bear Gulch Trailheads. Best of all, we plan to open these trails as we go, so you’ll be able to enjoy them as they’re built!
Of course, miles alone don’t make a trail. It’s really all about what you make of your trip – however many miles you make or visits you take. To help you make the most of your visits, SCLT’s been working on fun ways you can learn more about our beautiful Bighorns backyard while you’re out enjoying it.
Recently, SCLT released a Red Grade Trails Bird Guide. Compiled by Alexis Petrie, our AmeriCorps History & Community Education VISTA, with helpful assistance and gorgeous photography from Tina Toth and Sue Storey, you’ll be able to learn what birds you see along Red Grade Trails any time you visit. It sits on our website alongside an excellent wildflower guide compiled by our community friends David Haile and Susanna Meyer.
If you’d like a primer on some of our local birds, be sure to join us on Thursday, March 25 from 6 to 7 p.m. for the next SCLT Discovery Session: A Virtual Hoot! All About Owls. Tina Toth will teach everyone all about the owls they can find in Sheridan County. You’ll likely learn about some of our other feathered friends, too.
Additionally, you’ll see three trailside interpretive signs installed this summer. SCLT Historical Educator Carrie Edinger has researched and developed signs that’ll teach you about the history of the Bighorns, the Red Grade area, and Plains Indians Tribes.
We haven’t even got on the water – again SCLT has options for you. This week, the Sheridan City Council approved our addition of a new access site on Little Goose Creek just north of the Sheridan College’s downtown center. That will be the fifteenth access site along the Gooses and Tongue River.
And there will be even more opportunities to get your dose of Vitamin Nature through more Discovery Sessions, our collaboration with Science Kids called Unplug with Discovery Sessions and, of course, Trailfest presented by Big Horn Mountain Radio Network on June 4-5.
Best of all, these events are F-R-E-E! So, you won’t be spillin’ yo green to join the fun.
Happy spring, y’all!