The Marathon Loop will be a 26.11-mile continuous off street, multiuse paved trail around Billings. The dotted lines indicate connections yet to be made.
The City of Billings, Billings TrailNet and the Billings Chamber of Commerce Trails Committee have been focused on the development of the Marathon Loop Trail in recent years. When the missing links (above) are completed, this trail will form an approximately 26-mile loop around Billings with an almost entirely off-street trail system. Having a loop around the city within reach of most neighborhoods will provide the backbone of a true community-wide trail system.
City County Planning has conducted feasibility studies on each section:
Highway 3 (the Skyline Trail) was found to be feasible and a highly desirable trail to connect Swords Rimrock Park to Zimmerman Park. The Highway 3 Corridor Study was completed in 2015. Billings TrailNet is currently working to make this connection by collaborating with the City of Billings, Montana Department of Transportation and the City Billings Parks and Recreation Departments. BTN is raising the money to build the trail.Skyline Trail/north Billings along rims/3 miles
The Skyline Trail will be a 3 mile paved trail, making a continuous 10 miles of existing trail that run from the west to east, and 6-1/2 miles from Mary Street in the Heights to Coulson Park on the Yellowstone River, completing a 16 mile route. This route will serve as a major transportation corridor connecting neighbors, friends and businesses; while magnificently showcasing the area’s natural beauty and history.The panoramic view from the Skyline Trail will provide a wonderful welcome for community members and their visitors.The trail will be many visitors’ first impression both as they exit to Highway 3 from the Billings airport from the airport, and upon entering Billings from the west.•It will create safe access to Zimmerman park• It will provide more than 16 miles of continuous trails•It will show our community’s pride in our unique topography: the rims•It will create designated parking areas where it is currently haphazard•It will beautify the entry to our city from Highway 3•While there is a single track trail south of Highway 3, it is not accessible to people who use assistive mobility devicesEstimated cost: $3.5-$4 millionStagecoach Trail/west Billings adjacent to Zimmerman TrailAccess from the Billings rims to the valley below is more complex. Engineers must overcome issues such as the unstable sandstone, steep grades and narrow roads. Creating a trail is possible however, with enough funding to create a safe multiuse trail. The Rims to Valley Study was completed in 2016.The Stagecoach Trail would be approximately a 1 mile separated bicycle and pedestrian facility between Highway 3 atop the Rimrocks to existing bicycle and pedestrian facilities below. The Billings rimrocks are a geological sandstone formationthat form an approximately 300-foot high cliff that frames the north side of Billings, and provide a natural barrier to bicycle/pedestrian access on the north side of the rims.
Referred to as the Stagecoach Trail, the first route alternative is adjacent to Zimmerman Trail, a two lane roadway that traverses from the bottom to the top of the Rimrocks on the West End of Billings. This roadway is steep and narrow and does not provide a safe on-street facility for bikes and pedestrians. Reconstruction of Zimmerman Trail and a separate project for the design of a roundabout at the intersection of Zimmerman Trail and Highway 3 are currently underway by the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT). MDT estimated the cost of a separated trail along this route, located along the east side of the roadway and placed below the grade of the road along the roadside slope, at $4 million as a standalone project.
Trail connection between ZooMontana and Riverfront Park This would be approximately a 4 mile greenway trail connecting existing trail segments that terminate at ZooMontana and Riverfront Park. This connection between the end of the multiuse trail on Shiloh Road at the Zoo toward Riverfront Park to the east will make the southern most connection. The Zoo Montana to Riverfront Park Feasibility Study was completed in 2014.Riverfront Park is one of the recreational jewels of the Billings area. The 600 acre park (Billings’ largest) has an extensive trail network, fishing access, developed lawn areas with facilities for picnicking and group events. Riverfront Park stands isolated from the rest of the area’s trails and parks and is accessed primarily by cars.The vision of connecting the City of Billings to and along the Yellowstone River Corridor through a riverside trail has been a community vision for at least the past 20 years. This concept of a trail is proposed in the 2011 Billings Area Bikeway and Trail Master Plan and had previously also been recommended in the 2007 Riverfront Park Master Plan Update, the 2004 Billings Heritage Trail Plan, the 1994 BikeNET Plan and the 1994 Yellowstone River Master Plan.
Estimated cost: $3.5-$4 million
Finally, making the connection between Riverfront Park and Mystic Park to the north, along the Yellowstone River was formally studied and the Yellowstone Riverfront Trail Feasibility Study was published in 2012. Currently, the best way to ride, walk or run between Riverfront Park and Mystic Park via the Marathon Loop is to exit Riverfront Park from Washington Street on the northeast side of the park, head east on Riverside Drive to Garden Avenue and turn east on Belknap to connect to the Jim Dutcher Trail.