GVLT and the Newhall Family Protect a Section of Bridger Ridge Trail in Perpetuity – Explore Big Sky


BOZEMAN – Gallatin Valley Land Trust is delighted to announce the dedication of a permanent trail easement on a 0.6 mile long section of the Bridger Ridge Trail. The 18.9-mile-long Bridger Ridge Trail is almost entirely on public land managed by the United States Forest Service. A small but key section of the trail near Mount Baldy crosses private land owned by the Newhall family.

The Newhall family has always provided public access to the Bridger Ridge Trail since purchasing the property over 50 years ago.

“This particular trail is so important to the Bozeman community, it was especially important to secure this access forever; we are all trail users so we recognize the value of trails,” said Katy Kelly, granddaughter of Jay and Jane Newhall who originally purchased the property in 1963.

“As a family, we like to think of ourselves as stewards of our land, but in reality, one day we may not be able to keep it,” she said. “This easement ensures that if something happens to us, the trail will be protected for future generations. I think my grandmother Jane would have wanted us to think about the future that way.

Eventually, this trail easement will be passed to the USFS, where it will be protected and remain open to the public forever. Loss of access could have resulted in a difficult and expensive re-routing, as this section of the trail is on Bridger Ridge, surrounded by steep, rocky slopes that are not conducive to trail building.

“The Bridger Ridge Trail is an important community asset with enormous recreational value,” said Chet Work, GVLT’s general manager. “People come from all over the world to compete and play on this track. The Newhalls gave us a gift that will forever be cherished in our community and beyond.

The Bridger Ridge Trail is the site of the famous annual Bridger Ridge Run. Local athletes have mobilized to support the project.

“This is a historic section of trail on the iconic Bridger Ridge,” said Mike Wolfe, founder and head trainer of The Mountain Project, and current course record holder for the race. “This place means so much to our community of athletes and to any Bozemanite who recreates in the Bridgers. It is certainly a place – and a path – worthy of protection for future generations.

Support for the main project came from SITKA, which made a generous donation through the SITKA Ecosystem Grant Program. Additional support was provided by the Trom family, Knoff Group Real Estate, the Seessel family, Bridger Canyon Homeowners Association, The Mountain Project, Mystery Ranch, onX, Megyn and William Lansing, Dan Porter and dozens of supporters individual.

This trail easement ensures that the entire Bridger Ridge Trail will remain open and accessible to the public forever. GVLT would like to sincerely thank the Newhall family and project supporters who made this trail easement possible. Project supporters are invited to a GVLT Groundbreaking Ceremony and Trail Project Work Day on the Bridger Ridge Trail to be held in late spring 2022.

What is a trail easement?

A trail easement is a voluntary legal agreement that allows public access through private land in a specified corridor.

About Gallatin Valley Land Trust

Gallatin Valley Land Trust connects people, communities and open lands through the conservation of working farms and ranches, healthy rivers and wildlife habitat, and the creation of trails in Montana’s headwaters of Missouri Rivers and Upper Yellowstone.

To visit gvlt.org for more information.