Three Forks Voice - Connect With Your Community!

By Jack H. Smith
Three Forks Voice 

Trail system nationally recognized


March 27, 2019

Melissa Jenkins

The Headwaters Trail System is popular year round.

In May, the City of Three Forks will be one of four nationwide locations to take part in a kickoff event for the Rails to Trails Conservancy Grand American Rail-Trail Route.

The 11.8-mile Headwaters Trail System has been designated as a gateway trail for the route that will encompass 4,000 miles of trails from Washington D.C. to Seattle.

The trail is over 50 percent complete and will be the single greatest trail project in the history of the United States.

The Headwaters Trail System was featured in the Rails to Trails Conservancy winter publication. Former longtime Mayor, current council member, and an instrumental player in the growth of Headwaters Trail System, Gene Townsend said he could not believe it when he got the call from the publication and was told Three Forks had been chosen to represent Montana in the kickoff event set for May 8.

Live broadcasts will take place in the Eastern time zone in Washington D.C., the Central time zone in Columbus, OH., the Mountain Time Zone in Three Forks and the Pacific Time Zone in Seattle.

Looking at the size of the other communities taking part, Townsend said that was when it really sunk in about the magnitude of Three Forks being selected as a location.

The trail starts with the 11-mile Capital Crescent Trail in the Georgetown area of Washington D.C. and according to Townsend is 53 percent complete.

He said the RTC had a goal of completing 50 percent before announcing the project nationwide and they are now really starting to push forward with the intercontinental trail system.

The Three Forks event will take place at the Depot that was moved from Trident and Townsend said they have been working to bring in key figures including Governor Steve Bullock.

Looking to the future of the trail system, Townsend has been asked by a lot trail enthusiasts about the possibility of connecting to Manhattan to or Belgrade. He hopes for other communities in Gallatin County to get enthused about a connector trail or county wide systems and sees it as a boon to the economy of Three Forks.

"I think it would be a great economic thing to have people come and use this trail and the impact on Main Street would be big," he said.

Townsend believes a huge part of the success of the local trail system was when they completed the bridge over the Madison River to connect to the Headwaters State Park.

"I didn't realize how many people from other communities went to Headwaters and recreated down there. Once that bridge got into place the bicycling really picked up," he said.

Great American Rail Trail

The Great American Rail-Trail will be the single greatest trail project in the history of the United States. Separated from vehicle traffic, travelers will be able to truly enjoy, embrace and experience those amber waves of grain and purple mountain majesties that make up the American landscape from Washington, D.C., to Washington State.

Melissa Jenkins

The possibility of a rail-trail that spans the country has been known for decades as RTC tracked rail-trails being developed east to west along the same course charted by the railroad a century ago. Now, the route is more than 50 percent complete-the milestone RTC has long identified as the threshold for committing to make this trail a reality.

The Great American Rail-Trail is a legacy. A national treasure. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create-together-an enduring gift to the nation that will bring joy for generations to come.

"There is an inherent legacy in trails. One that honors the past, enriches the present and provides a gift to the future." Said RTC President Keith Laughlin.


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