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Old Yellowstone Trail opens in Deer Lodge despite legal trouble

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Posted at 12:00 PM, Sep 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-05 14:03:21-04

DEER LODGE - The old Yellowstone trail starting at the trailhead on Washington Street in Deer Lodge is a 10-mile trail that treks all the way to Garrison.

"These are the final punch list things to open it up and just put the last icing on the cake for everything," said Jeremy Mickey.

After five months of construction, Mickey, owner of P3M, puts the finishing touches on the Old Yellowstone Trail.

"That'll go along with these two concrete benches and then the recycled plastic bench. They'll go at key points for people to rest and hang out," said Mickey.

Amanda Cooley, the Powell County Planning Director, has worked hard with the county to make this trail a reality.

"There’s a ton of nature along the trail so you can see birds, people have seen moose on the trail, and it crosses two active ranches, so you also get a piece of that Montana agriculture," said Cooley.

That’s where the trouble for the trail begins.

The trail is laid on an old county road and the first mile connects directly to the Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site.

"There’s an ongoing discussion with Grant-Kohrs about how to handle the ownership, whether it’s county controlled or if the national park has the domain over it," said Cooley.

Another section of the old county road crosses into property owned by Rock Creek cattle company in an area where active calving and branding occurs in the springtime.

In June, a judge granted a temporary restraining order that stopped construction on the cattle company's property, but their request for a preliminary injunction was denied.

This allowed the county to continue construction and finish it.

"The county is optimistic that we can come to a resolution that benefits both parties because we do feel like that it is an amenity that serves the entire community," said Cooley.

Rock Creek Cattle Company appealed the decision.

For now, the public can enjoy biking and walking through the old Yellowstone Trail.