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Billings Skyline Trail opening celebrated on the Rims

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Posted at 11:12 PM, Dec 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-08 08:04:23-05

BILLINGS - The Skyline Trail has officially opened in Billings, and it may just be the first of several trails opening in the near future.

For Billings residents, it's another option when it comes to being able to get out and enjoy the outdoors.

The Skyline Trail runs three miles from Zimmerman Park to Swords Park.

Trail supporters say the view makes it special and it is good for business.

"The Rims themselves, what an iconic piece of geology we have," said Scott Brown. "And I'm anxious to bring my 95-year-old dad up, living just below the Rims, he has a real attachment to it."

Brown grew up in Billings and as a kid, used to climb to get to the top of the Rims.

Now he walks and rides his bike.

That's a common theme for many, including Jerry Kessler, who has been riding on the Rims since he was in high school.

"It's just a beautiful ride," Kessler said. "A great workout. I used to do it every day. But there's so many trails down in town that you can go everywhere. So you can literally get from one end of town to the other. No problem at all on bike trails. That's a real improvement."

Kessler and Brown were among those celebrating the completion of the trail.

Mayor Bill Cole led the presentation and ribbon cutting.

"It shows a sense of pride in our community," said Kristi Drake, Billings Trailnet executive director. "And it makes a statement to people who live here and who visit here and who were thinking about working here."

Drake and her organization have been working on this $3 million, 3-mile trail for several years.

It's all part of the 26.2-mile Marathon Loop.

"It's about 90% built," Drake said.

She says a trail from ZooMontana along with the Stagecoach Trail on Zimmerman Trail will complete the loop.

But for right now, all the hard work has paid off and she's already seen plenty of people enjoying the trail.

"I saw a woman up here with a walker and her brother," Drake said. "She was elderly and it was just the sweetest thing to see, a place like this that now is accessible to everybody."

"It's got to add to the value of the city and the lifestyle," Kessler said.

Brown and his family own the Base Camp and he says the trail will help the Billings economy.

"For hotels, for restaurants. For other retail stores, it will benefit the city greatly," Brown said.