TWIN FALLS — Excitement is intense as Twin Falls gets ready to close the final, long-lamented gap on its canyon-rim trail map.
Segment by segment, the city has built an enviable system of walking and cycling trails along the south rim of the Snake River Canyon. It’s a selling point to tourists and job seekers, a beloved amenity to residents. But that gap — between daredevil Evel Knievel’s famous jump site and Eastland Drive North — has always interrupted bike commutes and shortened sightseeing hikes.
Until next month.
If construction work is substantially completed in time, City Hall expects to open the trail connection to the public Sept. 15. Trail promoters are planning festivities for that day but don’t have details yet.
When that segment opens, more than seven miles of continuous paved trail will stretch along the canyon rim — or near it — from Washington Street North to Shoshone Falls Park.
To clear the way for construction, the nonprofit Magic Valley Trail Enhancement Committee raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund the Twin Falls Community Foundation’s access agreement with a private landowner on the rim above Pillar Falls.
Yes, the new trail is paved, but don’t try to use it yet.
One local cycling group mistakenly posted on social media that the trail is already open. But “trail closed” signs are still posted on the new segment as a contractor continues work on fencing that will keep cattle on private land to the south — and off the trail.
“The cattle fence is really a lot better looking than I thought it would be,” Twin Falls Parks and Recreation Director Wendy Davis said Aug. 25, giving a reporter a sneak peek at the trail.
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“It’s being constructed on site, so it’s taking a long time,” said Mandi Thompson, the city’s community relations manager.
That fence uses rusty-metal posts and rails; panels of large wire mesh will be added to the bottom half to keep trail users’ dogs from getting in among the cattle.
Of course, dogs shouldn’t be unleashed here anyway, according to the city’s trail rules.
Leash your dogs. Stay on the public trail. And don’t drop trash, make disruptive noise or do any of the other nasty things that would make the trail a bad neighbor.
Davis and Thompson both stressed their hope that trail users will respect the private property that lines the new trail — in many places, both sides of the trail. Where homes overlook the Snake River Canyon, the trail diverges from the rim to bypass them. In places, barbed wire fence separates the trail from rim properties. At least one private driveway crosses the new trail — twice — and Davis intends to install bollards to prevent vehicles from turning onto the trail.
Many of the area’s private property owners, Thompson said, are worried about the foot and bike traffic that will start flowing in September.
“The trail does come by the backside of a lot of homes,” Davis said.
Fortunately for future users, the trail does follow the canyon rim long enough to open up a stunning new view of Pillar Falls from above.
Signs at each end of the new trail segment will include a map and recognize major donors to the fundraising effort. On Aug. 25, Thompson and Jaime Tigue, Magic Valley Trail Enhancement Committee director, looked over final designs for the signs.
To access the east end of the new trail segment, the city owns a small, dirt parking lot near the north end of 3200 East. Just before 3200 East ends, turn left (west) at a large fountain styled like a natural waterfall, park in the dirt lot, then walk north on the city’s half-mile dirt maintenance road to reach the Knievel jump site and the new paved trail.
But wait until Sept. 15 to use the trail. You’ve waited for years, so what’s a few more weeks?
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