skyline trail

coming in 2023:

the Skyline Trail: a connection between Swords Park and Zimmerman Park!

The Skyline Trail will be a new multiuse pathway along the Billings rims. It will make the rims accessible to runners, walkers, bicyclists, and people using assistive mobility devices, and it will provide them with at least 7 miles of continuous trail.

quick facts about skyline trail

Connecting Parks with Path

The Skyline Trail will connect two major parks: Swords Park to Zimmerman Park

Views of billings

“On top of the world,” with views of the Bighorn, Pryor and Beartooth Mountains.

airport access

Runs from the airport along the south side of Highway 3 ending at Zimmerman road.

projected build date

The City of Billings breaks ground on the Skyline Trail in February 2023


2017: Billings TrailNet convened a meeting between Montana Department of Transportation, City Public Works, City County Planning and Billings Parks and Recreation, to make the concept of the Skyline Trail a reality.

2018: Billings TrailNet hired an engineering firm, Sanderson Stewart, to desing the trail.

SPRING 2020: The City of Billings applied for the second time for the $26M BUILD Grant to build the Inner Belt Loop with a trail alongside it and the Skyline Trail.

SUMMER 2020: Our first ever major gift came from Dick Charbonneau. With his help, we raised $120,000 and built the first section of the trail, which now connects the neighborhood at Zimmerman Place to Zimmerman Park.

FALL 2020: The City was notified we were awarded enough funds to build the Inner Belt Loop + trail and the Skyline Trail.

SUMMER 2021: Billings TrailNet presented $85,000 to the City of Billings to meet their need for matching funds to be eligible to receive the BUILD grant.

WINTER 2023: Groundbreaking celebration for the Skyline Trail and Inner Belt Loop

SUMMER 2024: The Skyline Trail is expected to be completed.

frequently asked questions

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Why is this trail needed?
  • It will create safe access to Zimmerman park
  • It will show our community’s pride in our unique topography: the rims
  • When fully complete, it will create designated parking areas
  • It will beautify the entry to our city from Highway 3
  • It will be accessible to all types of users and will be accessible from the highway and will not disturb the mountain bike/running trail just atop the rims

There is great need for a multiuse trail along the Billings rims (with parking lots) on the west side of the airport roundabout. Zimmerman Park is a major mountain biking and hiking area, filled every weekend with outdoor enthusiasts who go there to hike, bike, rock climb and walk their dogs. We see families, friends and people of all ages using the park; however, there is currently no safe access to Zimmerman Park via bicycle.

The area between Swords Park and Zimmerman Park has no biking and walking amenities other than an unofficial running trail on the south side of many private homes on the rims. The gravel and broken glass between the rims and the highway is unsightly and parking is haphazard. The trail at Swords Park is widely used by walkers, runners and bicyclists. However, it is just 1-1/2 miles long, and ends abruptly approximately 100 yards or so west of the airport roundabout.

We have a beautiful view and the potential for a postcard amenity. There is a great mountain biking/hiking park at Zimmerman Park, and a mile of trail at Swords Park. We need to connect the two parks!

Who is involved in this project?

This is a collaborative effort between Billings TrailNet, Montana Department of Transportation, The City of Billings, Billings Parks and Recreation and City County Planning Department.  With the help of Sanderson Stewart, Billings TrailNet has organized collaboration between these public entities and has funded the design and construction.

We are also working with Parks and Recreation to ensure the trail is properly maintained and that eventually, parking will be contained to protect natural beauty of the rims.

Phillips 66 provided $60,000 in funds to build a restroom and benches along the trail. The restroom was installed at Zimmerman Park in summer 2018, and the benches will be added when the trail is in place.

In summer 2019, we broke ground on Phase 1 of the Skyline Trail, which connected Zimmerman Trail to the parking lot at Zimmerman Park.  Hundreds of people joined the celebration and ribbon cutting, and a favorite local band, Arterial Drive played their hearts out for the celebration. 

Our city has been recognized in Outside Magazine as the Best Town of 2016 for our multiuse trails, the Yellowstone River running right through it, rappelling off rims, our dirt biking & hiking trails, our microbreweries and dining scene. Billings was also recognized in Sunset Magazine’s February 2016 issue as the second runner up of the West’s most livable, sustainable communities.

We have momentum! And with this collaborative effort, we are living up to our reputation as a great community!

Billings TrailNet has been tasked with helping to connect our trails in Billings. We do all of this with donations from our community. If you would like to help, please contact us by calling our office at 406-281-1244, emailing us or making a donation.

What people say about this upcoming trail:

“At 60+ in age, we don’t bike in traffic, but we love to bike on dedicated trails.  We would pay more taxes for more dedicated trails.  These trails are great for Billings.”

“The Swords Park trail is a jewel of the Billings trail system … and one that I use to show off how great Billings is to visiting family. Extending that trail to Zimmerman Park would be great for all the runners, walkers and cyclists that I see on the Rims. It would make the City more livable and would be a draw when recruiting people to Billings.”

“I would absolutely make this a part of my regular biking and running loops, in particular to get to Zimmerman Park (which I only visit by car right now).”

“Trails are very necessary for any community. Please do whatever you can to expand these trail and connect portions of other trails.”

“I would use the trail often. I think it would be great for improving the entrance to Billings.”

“Its a natural connection from Swords Rimrock Park to Zimmerman Trail and one of the best views in the state. There just needs to be a safe route.”

“A paved path along this section of the Rims is sorely needed. The Rimrocks are the most overlooked and undervalued asset our city has.”

Why don’t you put the trail on the north side of the highway?

There are several reasons:

  • Private property on the north side necessitates acquiring easements, which can be costly.
  • The experience for people traveling by foot or on bike on the north side would not provide the scenic views and shade from trees as it does on the south side of the highway, overlooking the city.
  • Relocating the trail to the north side would necessitate at least two highway crossings to access Zimmerman Park (on the south side of the highway) and Swords Park (also on the south side of the highway).
  • Relocating the trail to the north side would also not mitigate the haphazard parking and stormwater issues that were addressed in the Highway 3 Corridor Study.
Would this trail prevent me from riding or hiking the dirt trail on the rims?

No, this trail would not replace that trail. It will be located south of the Highway 3 guardrail and north of the homes.

How much will the trail cost?

It is estimated to cost approximately $3 million

Why so much?

There are three steep drops just south of the guardrail. This necessitates retaining walls and a railing on the south side of the trail for safety.

How much have you raised so far?

 Approximately $120,000

Why didn’t MDT build it?

MDT has a policy that they will not be building nonmotorized trails unless they are funded by the Federal Transportation Alternatives Program.

skyline trail




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