The preferred route of the Great American Rail-Trail through Montana will connect communities already well-known for their outdoor recreation assets—including Livingston, Bozeman, Three Forks, Butte and Missoula. History abounds along the route as well: The area around the state’s Great American gateway trail—the developing Headwaters Trails System in Three Forks—has a history stretching to Sacajawea and the 1804–1806 Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery expedition; and in Livingston, the Highway 89 South Pedestrian Trail travels through the original gateway town for the country’s first national park: Yellowstone.
Close collaboration with trail managers and public officials in Montana will help facilitate the creation of the 319 miles needed to complete the Great American route over the next several decades.
The “Great American” Route Through Montana
RTC’s route analysis defines the preferred route of the Great American Rail-Trail through Montana as 425 miles—comprising 106 existing trail miles and 319 gap miles. Click the links below to view full trail descriptions of Montana’s host trails on TrailLink.com.
Trails Along the Route
• Highway 89 South Pedestrian Trail
• Livingston Depot Center Trail
• Bozeman to Bridger Mountains Trail/Path to the “M” and Drinking Horse
• Story Mill Spur
• Front Street Connector
• Oak Street Trail
• North 19th Avenue Trail
• Valley Center Trail
• Jackrabbit Lane Shared-Use Path
• Manhattan to the Gallatin River Trail
• Headwaters Trail System
• Milwaukee Road Rail-Trail (Thompson Park)
Headwaters Trail System
The trail connects to Missouri Headwaters State Park, where three rivers meet to form the Missouri River: the Jefferson, Madison and Gallatin. This is Big Sky country, a place where the pioneering expedition of Lewis and Clark trekked during their journey across the country. Offering nearly 12 miles of trail in and adjacent to the City of Three Forks, the trail enables travelers to take in the scenery of open grasslands, distant mountains, marshlands and river valleys as they follow along portions of the old Milwaukee Road rail corridor.
Route Reveal Celebration
Trail stories about Montana
Like you, we can’t wait to see the Great American Rail-Trail vision come to life—but we can’t do it alone. Help us reach 1 million pledges for the Great American, showing the strength and solidarity of the trails community.
Completing the Great American Rail-Trail: Catalyst Initiatives in Montana
In every state along the preferred route of the Great American, needs for completing the trail vary. To spur trail completion, RTC has identified initial catalyst initiatives—projects or challenges that would most benefit from RTC’s national breadth of resources. (View the complete list of catalyst initiatives and criteria here.) Through these initiatives, RTC will support local and state partners, investing time, expertise and organizational resources in specific projects that are critical to the ultimate completion of the Great American Rail-Trail.
Great American Rail-Trail Gap #68: Highway 89 South Pedestrian Trail Extension
RTC will work with Park County and the Park County Environmental Council to define and pursue alternative routes for completing the trail, providing the necessary technical and planning assistance. Assistance will include a feasibility study and concept plan for the trail segment between Emigrant and Livingston; education and outreach within the community; a signage plan; and design, engineering and construction assistance. In addition, RTC will serve as a technical resource to Montana State Parks in the implementation of the Trails Program authorized and funded through S.B. 24 in the 2019 Montana legislative session.