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Friday, January 19, 2018

Bruce Russell, right, surveys a spot along the Makoshika Park road where the new Paramount Trail will have to cross a coulee. Assisting Russell is park maintenance supervisor Cameron Hunt. Park staff intend to extend the culverts where the road crosses the coulees so the trail can be run atop them. The park does not have the budget to afford building footbridges across the numerous coulees along the new trail’s path.

Work starting soon on new Makoshika trail

“Once they’re done with the engineering, we’ll put the culvert extensions in first, then we’ll start laying trail,” Nate Powell, Makoshika State Park manager

By Jason Stuart

Ranger-Review Staff Writer

Work on Makoshika State Park’s new Paramount Trail is expected to get underway soon.

Park manager Nate Powell said his “plan right now” is to break ground on the trail in the next couple of weeks.

The Paramount Trail will connect with the recently completed walking path running down Snyder Avenue to the park Visitor Center. It will follow along the park road and eventually connect to the park’s campground.

When completed, the trail will be 1.18 miles in length. The trail’s design calls for it to be 8 feet wide with a packed gravel surface. It will be suitable for bicycles and be ADA accessible. It is also being designed to allow for future paving.

Surveying work along the trail route began this week. Friends of Makoshika volunteer Bruce Russell and park maintenance supervisor Cameron Hunt were out Thursday surveying spots where the park road runs across coulees.

Powell and his staff plan to hug the trail alongside the road and to extend the culverts at the coulee crossings so the trail can run across the top of them.

Russell noted that while  building foot bridges across the coulees “would be nice” the breadth and depth of some of the coulees and the number of them along the trail’s path make that option prohibitively expensive.

“Those deep crossings are so expensive to get across, our first idea is to swing the trail in towards the road and extend the (culverts),” Russell said. 

“We’re trying to save some money so the project can move forward on our minimal budget,” Hunt added.

Powell said the park has “plenty of funds” to complete the first quarter mile of the trail, given that all the work is done by park staff and volunteers.

The initial quarter mile of the trail is being funded by a $27,000 grant from the federal Recreational Trails Program. The grant was sponsored by the Friends of Makoshika.

Powell is hopeful that the park will be awarded another RTP grant this year for the trail, the application for which was submitted in March.

“That’ll give us funds to help us hire contractors and move this along much faster,” he said.

Park staff aren’t waiting around to see if the trail wins another grant, however. Weather permitting, work on the first quarter mile of the trail should soon begin in earnest.

“Once they’re done with the engineering, we’ll put the culvert extensions in first, then we’ll start laying trail,” Powell said.

Reach Jason Stuart at rrreporter@rangerreview.com.

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