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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Makoshika Park receives grant for Paramount Trail

“Once the switchbacks project starts, it’s going to give us the staff to work down here by the visitor center and work on the trail,” Nate Powell, Makoshika manager

By Jason Stuart

Ranger-Review Staff Writer

Makoshika State Park is nearing the start of work on its new trail, and now it has more funding to build it.

The Montana State Parks & Recreation Board voted last Wednesday to award Makoshika a $90,000 grant through the Recreational Trails Program for the Paramount Trail. 

The new funding adds to the $27,000 RTP grant the park received for the trail last year.

The Friends of Makoshika, who applied for the grant on the park’s behalf, are committed to provide $22,500 in matching funds for the new grant. 

Makoshika manager Nate Powell noted that the match from FOM includes “in-kind contributions” like labor and materials, and is not “100 percent cash.”

The initial plan was to build the trail out a quarter of a mile at a time, but with the new grant in hand, Powell said those plans have changed.

“Our plan now is to work on the entire project,” he said. “The goal now is to look at the whole project, not just in quarter sections.”

Just how far the park will be able to stretch its grant funding to get the trail completed all at once will depend upon the contractor bidding process, however, Powell said.

Work on the trail should begin within the next month. Park staff will be doing a large portion of the work, and Powell said they should really be able to concentrate on trail work after the project to repair the park road closes down the top of the park at the end of July.

“Once the switchbacks project starts, it’s going to give us the staff to work down here by the visitor center and work on the trail,” Powell said.

When completed, the Paramount Trail will be 1.18 miles in length, running from the park visitor center to the campground. It will also tie into the Diane Gabriel Trail.

“Our goal is to have folks stop at the visitor center and have them explore without driving in,” Powell said.

Increasing visitor safety by getting hikers, runners and cyclists off the main park road is another major reason for building the trail.

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.

Powell and state parks administrators hope to continue adding to the trail in the future as funding allows, with the ultimate goal of one day extending it up to the amphitheater.

Reach Jason Stuart at rrreporter@rangerreview.com.

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