As the trailhead to Montana, Billings offers more than 75 miles of accessible and scenic walking and biking trails that surround the city. However, that wasn’t always the case.  

“The Chamber has been involved in trail committees for around 18 years, but the trail system has grown since then,” says Billings Chamber President John Brewer.  “Ever since Kristi [Drake] and the Billings TrailNet volunteer committees have come on board, it has really exploded!” 

This is when John pulls out an agenda he found from 2010, discussing the idea behind the Marathon Loop, a 26.11-mile continuous off-street paved trail around Billings.  ‘I found this when preparing for our discussion!’ he says, enthusiastically.  “It’s great to see how far we have come from that initial vision, especially with the recent completion of the Skyline Trail.”

While there can still be challenges in funding and engineering when it comes to completing this project, it’s most important to garner community support through outreach and advocacy.  “Trails improve quality of life for all residents and are a means of kids getting to school safely.  They also attract people to the area, including visitors that spend a collective $630 Million each year on the local economy passing through on their way to Yellowstone or to explore other trail systems,” says John.

John also shares his own personal fondness of the Billings trail system.  “I have great memories with my wife and kids training for races and just being on the trails together,” he says. 

Nowadays, he still enjoys biking and walking, but most often takes his dogs on trail walks since the “connectivity is so much better than it used to be!”

As we wrap up our discussion, John mentions the upcoming Chamber events including the Chamber Breakfast on April 25th with Andre Reed to discuss supporting youth in the community and the Chamber Open at Briarwood Golf Club on June 28th, but then gives a special shoutout to Ales for Trails. “It’s one of my favorite non-Chamber events of the year! What a unique event to bring the community together to raise money for the trail system,” he muses. 




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