The wildflowers are blooming out at Rock Creek, and so is Five Valleys’ vision for our Rock Creek Confluence property. Last summer, Five Valleys worked with the national universal trails experts at Penn Trails to develop a master trails plan for the entire 300-acre Confluence. This plan details an expanded trails network that includes bringing the existing 1/3-mile trail up to national universal design standards and creating new universal trail loops, mowed paths, and a more defined backcountry trail to Rock Creek.
“Ensuring that our trails at the Confluence are truly universal and can be used by visitors of all abilities, is something that Five Valleys has been working towards for many years,” says Jenny Tollefson, Five Valleys’ Stewardship Director.
Since 2017, Five Valleys has worked with Summit Independent Living, Boy Scout Troop 1911, community and business volunteers, and our funding partners to develop and maintain public access at the Confluence. With those experiences as a foundation, the master trails plan as a guide, and with support from our community donors and the Montana Forever Campaign, we will be expanding universal access in several exciting ways:
Thanks to recent funding from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, we will install and develop content for two more solar audio post along the trail route. The audio posts help interpret the Confluence’s story for visitors who are blind or low vision, or those simply wanting to experience that story in an interactive way. We will also be constructing a wildlife viewing platform that overlooks the wetland restoration site, which was made possible by longtime supporter and Rock Creek resident, Ron Clausen.
These accessibility improvements will help make the Confluence more welcoming for visitors of all abilities, including the hundreds of children who visit Confluence each year through the programming of our many education, restoration, and research partners. Alongside our nonprofit, community, and state partners, we are excited to begin work on this next phase of the Confluence later this year.
In addition to universal access work, Five Valleys is excited to be working with The Friends of the Upper Rock Creek Historic District (Friends) to stabilize historic Pete’s Cabin. The cabin, which is located along the 1/3-mile trail route, was the home of legendary Rock Creek resident, Peter Terminus. When the Corra family, who once owned and farmed the Confluence, became ill during the 1918 influenza pandemic Pete kept the ranch running. In gratitude, the Corras built Pete a modest log cabin on the ranch, where he lived until his death.
Last October, the Friends cleaned, assessed, and made a workplan for the cabin. In March, Jenny and Board member John Rimel met Milo McLeod of the Friends at the historic sawmill at Historical Museum at Fort Missoula to discuss having the Society of American Foresters provide some of the lumber needed for the project. This month, the Friends will return to the Confluence to begin replacing beams and the roof. We are grateful to the Friends for providing materials, time, expertise towards the project, and to the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula for their 2022 grant that is helping fund this work.
On Saturday, June 3rd all are invited to join us at the Confluence for a National Trails Day celebration and workday in partnership with Summit Independent Living. Come by for appetizers, drinks, and the opportunity to learn more about our efforts across the Confluence. Learn more and RSVP.
Header photo by
2022 Confluence Open House photo by Five Valleys staff
Restoring Pete's Cabin photo by Five Valleys staff