SCLT recognizes the many outdoor recreation opportunities in our area, whether it is strolling along Sheridan’s pathways, hiking in Cloud Peak Wilderness, riding through the Bighorn National Forest, or floating down one of our local streams. However, finding a non-motorized trail in the mountains is more difficult, especially one within 30 minutes of Sheridan or Big Horn.
A core part of our mission is to increase public access to recreation in Sheridan County. We are especially interested in completing projects that connect you with the spectacular scenery and wildlife of the Bighorns. SCLT’s Red Grade Trails project will do just that and we hope it will become one of your favorite places to escape to in the future.
Why Red Grade?
Over the past few years, we have seen exponential interest from our community for non-motorized, natural surface trails that are easy to access, scenic, and safe. With this in mind, SCLT’s Recreation Work Group, comprised of community volunteers, set out to identify potential locations for developing a 15 – 20 mile non-motorized trail system. While we looked at a number of different potential sites, the Red Grade vicinity quickly rose to the top as the premier project setting due to the large tracts of public lands (State, Bureau of Land Management, United States Forest Service), well-established public access on Red Grade Road, proximity to over 60% of Sheridan County’s population, and spectacular terrain and scenery.
Planning for Success
In January of 2014, SCLT’s Board of Directors adopted a strategic plan for the project. Since that time, we have reached out to property owners within roughly one mile of the proposed trail corridor, which is entirely located on State, BLM, and USFS lands. This outreach was a natural priority for SCLT because we realize that local residents should be involved in the process to make sure our project reflects the needs of local communities. The response from landowners in the vicinity has been mostly neutral or supportive, with a few landowners who are opposed to the project. We have received excellent feedback from this outreach that we used to modify and improve the overall project concept.
In June, SCLT contracted with the International Mountain Biking Association’s (IMBA) Trail Solutions division to design the trails and trailheads. These professional trail designers build trails specifically to minimize the impact to sensitive environments and consider countless other factors like steepness of grade, scenic values, safety, shared uses, and more. Recently, they designed the trail systems at Curt Gowdy and Glendo State Parks. We anticipate submitting final project proposals to the State, BLM, and USFS by September 1, 2014. Review processes vary with each entity, but will likely take between 6 to 24 months in total and include formal opportunities for public comment.
Community Trails Need Community Support!
The initial design work for the Red Grade Trails project will cost $15,000. We already had a donor step forward and pledge a $7,000 match to fund this work and know there are others out there just as passionate about this project. We welcome donations to cover the cost of this contract. Also, please plan to drop by Black Tooth Brewing Company on July 8th between 7 pm and 10 pm for our “Crafting Ales for Local Trails” Boot Kick-Off After Party. Black Tooth will donate $1 of every pint to SCLT’s recreation projects, including Red Grade Trails, during the party and we’ll have maps and information to share.
A formal fundraising effort for this project will follow.
Download Project FAQ Sheet