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Wyoming Trails Inventory


Recreation trails are an important aspect of outdoor recreation in Wyoming. Recreation trails contribute to the State's economy through expenditures by visitors attracted by the various recreational opportunities trails provide. Recreation trails also contribute to the quality of life in Wyoming by providing recreational opportunities for residents.

In order to plan for future recreational needs in Wyoming, it is important to have comprehensive information for the trail systems that exist in the state. In 1997, the Wyoming Department of Commerce, Division of State Parks and Historic Sites contracted with the University of Wyoming, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics to develop a statewide trail inventory for Wyoming. The goal of this project was to develop a database of trail information that can be used by government agencies, local entities, and recreation users for management purposes and trip planning. The State Trails Council and other interested groups should be able to use the inventory to provide for better resource management and to provide better information to the public. The inventory will also assist in the development of a Statewide Comprehensive Trails Plan.

This report provides a summary of the results of the trail inventory for federal, state and locally administered trails in Wyoming. Federal trails are primarily those administered by the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, and the National Park Service in Wyoming. State trails are primarily those administered by the Wyoming Division of State Parks and Historical Sites. Local trails are primarily those administered by cities and counties in Wyoming.



This project was conducted in two phases with much of the methodology based on a similar study conducted in Montana by the University of Montana (Yuan, et al, 1994). The purpose of the first phase was to develop an appropriate methodology that could be used to complete a statewide trails inventory for Wyoming in phase two. In phase one, the methodology from the Montana study was tested by conducting a small scale inventory of all trails maintained by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the U.S. Forest Service's (USFS) Medicine Bow National Forest, and the City of Cheyenne. The second phase of the project utilized the methodology tested in phase one to complete the inventory of all trails in Wyoming.

A variety of techniques were employed to develop the trails inventory for Wyoming. Four data collection methods were used: 1) examining existing trail databases, 2) examining maps, 3) surveying agencies, and 4) interviewing officials from agencies. Federal and state agencies were personally interviewed to obtain information on the trails that they manage. Local entities were contacted by phone and then mailed data sheets if they maintained any trails. The data for each trail were recorded on a standard form developed for this study (see "Wyoming Trail Inventory Data Sheet" in the Appendix). The information from the data sheets was then entered in Lotus Approach computer database for analysis. This program is compatible with other computer database programs. A list of all the agencies and entities contacted appears in the Appendix.


Inventory Results

The purpose of this report is to provide a summary of the information contained in the trail inventory. It does not attempt to provide specific information on individual trails in Wyoming. However, the information for individual trails can be obtained from the database, itself. With the database it is also possible to summarize trail information as needed by geographic region of the state, agency, physical characteristic, or allowed use.


River Trails

In addition to land trails, federal, state, and local agencies were also asked to supply information on river trails that they administer using a separate inventory data sheet (see Appendix). In addition to managed access points, some agencies provided information on white water ratings, miles to next access, and other data that would be useful to users. Unfortunately the primary provider, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, did not have this information available. A separate database for river trails has been developed for the project. Only maintained access points were included in the database. Other sites that may be used as access points, but not specifically maintained as such, were not included.


4-Wheel Drive Trails

As a part of this project and attempt was made to also collect information on 4-wheel drive trails from federal, state, and local government agencies. Unfortunately, this effort was largely unsuccessful. The primary provider of 4-wheel drive recreation in Wyoming seems to be the BLM. However, the agency does not inventory or manage these trails or roads, although they may be included on agency maps. The USFS has a significant number of high clearance roads and has inventoried them. However, most national forests in Wyoming are currently involved in revising their travel management plans and did not feel that they could release this information until the travel management plans are completed. The NPS does not support 4-wheel drive trails within park or other administrative unit boundaries. No state or local government agency indicated that they administered any 4-wheel drive trails. Due to the lack of information available, no database was created for 4-wheel drive trails.



Summary and Conclusion

The Wyoming Trails Inventory indicates that Wyoming has an extensive trail system that can provide many benefits to the residents of the state and its economy. Moreover, this inventory illustrates the abundance of recreational opportunities that are available through the state's trail system. Managing these trails effectively will be increasingly important to the state as recreational demands increase. This inventory should be an important tool for management and promotion of the trail systems in Wyoming.



Yuan, Susan, Michael Yuan, and Jerry Covault. 1994 MONTANA STATEWIDE TRAIL INVENTORY. Research Report 37, Institute for Tourism and Research, The University of Montana, October 1994.