Tremonton City is in the preliminary stages of building a walking path through the 14.23 acre, historically significant Holmgren Nature Preserve. The city also plans to execute a 40-year-old master plan to develop the Malad River channel for use as a recreational park.
The just-over-one-mile walking path includes a portion of the Bidwell-Bartleson Trail, said Shawn Warnke, Tremonton City Manager, and crosses the river twice circling back to the trailhead.
“We don’t know the exact trail, but we do know they followed the Malad River through this area,” Warnke said. “When we did our historical clearance they reaffirmed it. They found a rock ford where they (Bidwell-Bartleson Company) crossed the river. The rocks were from a different area.”
John Bidwell and John Bartleson, with a group of about 40 people, were the first emigration party to start from Missouri and make an attempt to trek to California. The group followed the Oregon Trail until they got to Soda Springs, Idaho. Then they followed different drainages, including the Malad River, south until they landed somewhere near Corrine, before going west to Park Valley and on.
The trail was part of a 1978 Tremonton City General plan which listed the development of the Malad River channel for use as a recreational park.
Building the one-mile-plus trail is the start of a 2002 plan for Tremonton to develop a citywide trail and bike path system. The city hopes this trail will lead to others, which will connect throughout the city for public use.
After receiving a $91,926 grant from the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation, Tremonton matched this figure for a total of $183,852 to begin the project. There was also over $300,000 in public and private donations making the walking path a feasible project.
The trailhead is at approximately 300 North and 745 East with a block restroom building finished and ready for use with 21 parking stalls. The trail begins next to the restrooms, where the 10 ft. wide concrete walkway begins to drop down to a boardwalk and stops at a barbed wire fence at the Malad River bottoms. When finished, the trail will have interpretive signs talking about wetland animals, plants and habitats.
The unique wetlands of the Holmgren Nature Preserve host a number of plants and animals that cannot be found anywhere else in the Tremonton area, Warnke said. “The walkway would give visitors a chance to see species that can only be found in the river corridor.”
There is some concern among members of the city council that the finished project will not be used.
“Walking paths are used in other towns and seem to be growing in popularity,” Warnke said. “We really don’t know how much it will be used until we build it.”