After more than 26 months of environmental analysis, community Q&A, two formal public comment periods, and resubmittal of the proposal to reduce trail miles and eliminate the "expert" downhill bike trail, the Sheridan Community Land Trust (SCLT) has been granted permission by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to move forward with construction of 3.84 miles of non-motorized trail on BLM-administered lands north of Red Grade Road as well as a single new parking area to serve 12 vehicles. Red Grade Trails represents a community investment of roughly $300,000 to-date and received local support following the creation of two miles of new trail and reconstruction of two existing parking areas.
In June of 2014, after over a year of research and planning, SCLT announced their intention to create a new non-motorized trail system on State, BLM, and US Forest Service lands accessed via Red Grade Road. Later that month, SCLT contracted with world-renowned trail designer Joey Klein of Trail Solutions to create a master plan for the Red Grade Trails system. Klein hiked 60 miles before completing a design that maximizes benefits for hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians while highlighting the Bighorns’ natural beauty. Through the process, he considered topography, scenic values, and user safety, while attempting to prevent any negative impact on the trail’s plants and wildlife.
In August of 2014, SCLT was granted a 25-year Special Use Lease for the 160-acre State Land parcel bisected by Red Grade Road. SCLT completed the first 1.8 miles of trails although the lease allowed a total of 5.3 miles. These trails were opened to the public in the fall of 2015 and in the summer of 2016, SCLT improved the safety and function of two existing parking areas along lower sections of Red Grade Road. In the fall of 2016, SCLT began additional trail work on State Land and will continue work on these trails as well as future BLM trails in the spring of next year.
SCLT now has permission to construct up to nine miles of non-motorized trails on BLM and state lands and anticipates submitting proposal documents for environmental analysis on the remaining 24 miles of potential trail next year.