Thermopolis Trail Plan
With the goal of creating a Thermopolis Community Trail Plan that evaluates and meets the needs of Thermopolis residents for year-round close to home recreational trail systems, and which provides visitors with added outdoor recreation opportunities, Wyoming Pathways is partnering with the Bureau of Land Management, the Hot City Outdoor Alliance and the Town of Thermopolis to develop a vision for the future of soft surface trail development in and around Thermopolis.
The success of the recently developed multi-use trails in Hot Springs State Park demonstrated to Town officials, business leaders and community members the positive impact on the economy and quality of life that a well-planned and professionally-built trail system can have. The Hot City Outdoor Alliance recognized this as well and has been working in recent years to enhance outdoor recreation opportunities and participation in the Thermopolis area. After seeing the popularity of the new T-Hill State Park trails with the community and how the new trail was drawing visitors visitors to Thermopolis, the Hot City Outdoor Alliance was convinced that developing additional trails was something the organization should pursue.
Discussions with local land managers ensued and the Alliance found a willing partner in the Bureau of Land Management. The Worland Field Office is assisting with the planning and contributed to the plan cost. The enhancement of recreation on the public lands that they manage is an important element of the BLM’s mission, so the prospect of planning for the development of a high-quality trail system on BLM land was well received.
This confluence of events has led to the creation of the current project, which is scheduled to begin this summer and will include open house meetings and opportunities for the public to provide input during the planning process. The partners have retained trail consultant Todd Thibodeau to develop the Thermopolis Community Trail Plan. Todd Thibodeau also managed the 2019 development of the well-received new T-Hill Trail in Hot Springs State Park, and he brings a wealth of trail planning experience along with local area knowledge to the project.
2019 Construction of the T-Hill Trail at Hot Springs State Park:
With an eye toward improving the outdoor recreation opportunities that already make Thermopolis a great place to “Live, Work, Play and Discover”, the project partners hope that the Thermopolis Community Trail Plan will provide the impetus for future trail development, help secure funding and guide the development of a high-quality trail system that will serve the community and the region well into the future.
- Complete a conceptual-level evaluation of public lands (federal, state, local) in the Thermopolis area to identify the best opportunities to create successful natural surface trail systems for mountain biking, hiking, and other nonmotorized trail uses. Create prioritized recommendations to guide the development of future trail systems.
- Complete an evaluation of public roads in the Thermopolis area to identify the best opportunities to create a local bicycle route system, on low volume paved and gravel public roads. Include basic route descriptions, distances, and points of interest.
- Evaluate potential route options and existing road conditions for the proposed Great American Rail Trail. Limit the analysis to approximately 15-mile radius of Thermopolis.
- Prepare a draft Plan with a report of the findings, description of the recommended trail system and bicycle route system, and concept maps. Circulate to agencies and organizations for comments, and incorporate into a final plan document.
The plan will also take into consideration and incorporate:
- Land ownership and trail system location options.
- Travel and tourism analysis and recommendations.
Finally, development of the plan will include substantial public involvement that will:
- Gather and document public input to inform the planning process and to better understand the needs of the Thermopolis community and visitors.
- Create an advisory Steering Committee to provide input on the Trail Plan and to help with public involvement.
- Assess the options for open house meetings, dependent on COVID guidance, and work with local officials to help host. If meetings are not practical, create an online method to gather input.
- Work with Wyoming Pathways, Hot City Outdoor Alliance, and area land managers, including Wyoming State Parks and the BLM, to best share the draft proposal with the public, local and state officials, and other interested parties.
- Evaluate and incorporate public input to improve the plan.