A new path now connects the community trail system to its latest frontier: Wolf Creek.
Built by the Platte River Trails Trust, the trail starts at Morad Park, crosses CY Avenue and winds east up to Mountain Plaza Shopping Center.
Trust members and community partners gathered on the trail for a ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday afternoon.
The trail began construction in June, but has been in the works for nearly five years, said Angela Emery, executive director of the Platte River Trails Trust.
Residents in Wolf Creek have long petitioned for safer passage over CY Avenue, Emery said. There’s a crosswalk a ways up the road, where the avenue intersects with Wyoming Boulevard, but people were always reluctant to cross the busy intersection.
“That large intersection is a hard barrier,” she said.
The new path connects Wolf Creek to the “spine” of the community trails system, providing bike and pedestrian access to other parts of the city.
The Platte River Trails Trust partnered with local companies WLC Engineering and Knife River Construction to build it. The project was paid for with a grant from the Wyoming Department of Transportation, as well as county 1-cent funds and local donations.
In the future, the nonprofit hopes to launch other projects in and around Wolf Creek, Emery said.
“Right now we’re in the process of ‘spoking’ into that area,” she said.
It usually takes the trust three to five years to bring a project from dream to reality, Emery said. In addition to planning and design, the nonprofit must wait for a green light from the city, raise money and apply for grants before construction can begin.
But the payoff is always worth it, said David Hough, president of the trust’s board of directors.
“It’s on the drawing board for so long,” he said after cutting the ribbon to the new trail Wednesday.
The Platte River Trails Trust has been active since 1982. For the past several years, its focused on making the trail system more accessible to farther-flung or isolated parts of the city.
It recently hosted its flagship fundraiser, Riverfest, in late August. Held alongside the Rotary Club of Casper’s Great Duck Derby, the event brought brew tasting, food trucks and live music to Crossroads Park.
This year’s Riverfest drew 1,500 visitors and pulled in $40,000. All proceeds will go toward an upcoming project connecting Paradise Valley Park to the Robertson Road Trail, Emery said.
In the future, the trust also plans to build a bridge connecting north Casper to the river trail, as well extend the Casper Rail Trail to Edness Kimball Wilkins State Park.
Earlier this summer, the trust also collaborated with ART 321 to host its second Art for the Trails art market, which began in July and wrapped up Aug. 6.
The nonprofit reported unprecedented traffic last year as locals headed outdoors to escape the monotony of pandemic-related shutdowns. The river trail recorded 300% more traffic during March of last year compared to 2019, while the Tate Pumphouse trail registered 200% more traffic for the same period.