Get Out There
(page 4 of 6)
CONNECTING THE DOTS
The People, Places and Past of the “Bike Path”
If there’s one thing this community has, it’s access … to the great outdoors and all it has to offer. And the Wood River Trail, lovingly known as the “bike path,” managed by the Blaine County Recreation District (BCRD), is the centerpiece of the simplicity of this access. Spanning 20 paved miles from Bellevue’s south valley, up through Hailey and into Ketchum’s northern parts (with an additional 10 miles taking a circuitous route through Elkhorn and Sun Valley), the trail connects our community in many senses of the word.
This multi-use pathway serves as a year-round source of activity. The summer months are undoubtedly the busiest as a myriad of wheels are spinning; wheels of bikes, strollers, scooters, rollerblades and rollerskis all power north or south and back again. Runners and walkers, often with dogs at their side, adorn the paved path in spades.
In winter, the trail is inviting, too. Nordic skis, snowshoes and winter bike tires track the groomed (and free) trail. Easy and convenient, it winds you along a gently undulating trail for as long or as short as you’d like.
It’s a steady stream of people, all there for different reasons, traveling at different paces. Some venture to work. Some walk to the Big Wood River to observe rising rainbow trout. Others put the hammer down and go hard for their hearts. Kids skip and run and play along the way as others rest on one of the memorial benches. It’s different for everyone and that’s the beauty of it; one and all can enjoy the Wood River Trail (WRT).
The WRT is steeped in history and interpretative signs give insight into our past along the way (maps with self-guided historical tours are available): the robust mining history of the 1880s; the sheep ranching ventures of the 1930s; and the Union Pacific Railroad line of the 1950s and 60’s all speak to those who have traveled here before us. It gently reminds us that we should not take this path or this place for granted.
The very route of the train that brought the first skiers to the Sun Valley Resort in 1936 was converted to this efficient conduit in the 1970s. A succinct group of visionaries saw opportunity in the deserted rails and set out to recreate the lay of the land. Although its route is marked by a single flat line on the map, for 30 years the WRT has added a depth and richness to our community in real-life 3D.
Kris Stoffer, the Director of Development of the BCRD, extrapolates this point. She sees “the WRT not only as a physical connector for our community, providing a safe way to move up and down the Valley, but as a symbolic one as well, reflecting our shared values of healthy active recreation, an appreciation for the outdoors and for the rich history of our Valley.”
“All three of my children learned to ride their bikes and Nordic ski on the WRT,” Kris continued. “There are 30 years of stories from families and visitors who have spent time on the trail, learning and commuting and recreating.” The users are like “dots” being connected in empowering and powerful ways.
Stoffer inspired me to share one of my more memorable experiences on the path; that of “cruising” (on cruiser bikes) with two girlfriends while I was in a short-legged walking cast last fall. It was fun to check out things we hadn’t seen in a while, as we caught up on our own life stories. It served as a reminder that getting out—no matter what the circumstances—is vital to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It’s relatively easy to do in the Wood River Valley—sometimes, indeed most of the time, it’s just a pedal stroke away.
Please experience the trail and help us continue its lore over the next 30 years. It’s time for you to get out there! -Nicky Elsbree