Due to my busy schedule this summer it has been a while sense I have made any post to my blog. This summer has been a roller coaster of events and adventures. Over the next eight posts I am going to cover my summer where I left off in July to current time. When I was not working or traveling I was on the bike hitting the trail. The Rivers Edge Trail has over 45 miles of trail and I covered every mile (Check out http://thetrail.org/). With a record fire season in Montana the colors were fantastic to photograph. There was always a stunning sunset, or a once in a life time sunrise to capture. One memorable trip I took was the trip out to Ryan dam from the Rainbow dam overlooks and this trail is aggressive at best. Following the river banks of the Missouri heading North East the trail takes you up and down the fingers that reach from the prairie into the water that sit about 50′ to a 100’ above the water. Mid way between Rainbow dam and Ryan dam sits Cochrane dam. You can’t drive to it due the fact the road is private so the only way to see it is to take the trail. In the 35 years I have lived in Great Falls I had never seen the Cochrane dam. The dam a modest structure that sticks out of the water with just one power plant. Just above the dam are the remnants of infrastructure that was once used to carry irrigation water out to the grassland. It is now used by guys like me that are resting at the midpoint between Great Falls and Ryan dam. To the north side of the river the old Rainbow dam power plant building has been replaced by the smaller building in the background. Just the week before I took my trip down the trail a grass fire surrounded this facility stripping all of the vegetation away. Now fall has come and gone, winter is here and the bikes are put away. Over the months to come I will be out and about capturing a Missouri winter and planning my shots for next summer.
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After work I can’t think of a better way to burn off some stress than hitting the Rivers Edge Trail on the bikes. I can burn down a few residential blocks and hop on the trail without crossing any major streets. From there I can reach the entire length of the Missouri that passes through Great Falls with one street crossing. This crossing is located just north of the Milwaukee Depot adjacent to the skate park. There is Just one note on this crossing that I wanted to share. It can be a dangerous crossing due to the signage provided. For the trail traffic there is a stop sign provided that tells the pedestrians and bikers that they need to stop and wait until it is safe to cross. The vehicular traffic is also provided a sign that says there is a pedestrian crossing ahead. However there is no communication on who has the right away. The danger comes when a vehicle stops giving up his or her right away leading the trail traffic into a false sense of security. The vehicular traffic traveling the opposite direction may not be paying attention or willing to give up their right away. If you have a longer train there may be some miscommunication on whether or not it is safe to cross. I watched this last week almost turn into a tragic accident. Myself I let the courteous drivers that stop to allow me cross keep their “right away”. It is only until it is clear that I attempt to cross (OK! On with the rest of my blog). This is about the third of fourth time I have blogged about the Rivers Edge Trail and I can Promise it won’t be my last. Every time I am on the trail the scenic view is different than the day before.
I am on my way out the door for a bike ride. My daughter has her warm clothes on and my wife is patiently waiting for me to finish this blog :-). When you look at the map of the Rivers Edge Trail you can see that there is an access point “just down the street” from just about everywhere in Great Falls. It is amazing what the trail started from compared to what it is today. There are so many awesome views of the Missouri River and sites around Great Falls. Starting at Flag Hill just below Warden Park on the southernmost part of the trail is the best place to start your journey. From this vantage point you get a great view of Great Falls and the path of the Missouri as it cuts through Great Falls. At the Top of Warden Park there are two high powered spotting scopes that you can use to glass Great Falls and beyond. I was surprised at the quality of the glass and scopes (highly recommend). In addition to the spotting scopes there is a Folf course that works its way through the park. I took photograph of the Flag with Great Falls in the back drop from this location (called “Flying Proud”). This print is being auctioned off at the Dirty Martini’s for Clean Water on the 12th of May; this is a fundraiser for the Rivers Edge Trail. The trail on this side of the river goes all the way out to Morony Dam. On the west side of the river starting at Bay Drive there is a nice little park that gets less traffic than other parks, however it is a great place to put in for Fishing or just relaxing next to the River. It is right on the river with park benches scattered about. I took an awesome photograph of the flag and the gazebo at the top of Warden Park with a brilliant rainbow behind it (Flying Colors). You can get on the trail and take it along Bay Drive, under Central Ave West Bridge. When you get to the other side you can take the West Bank park trail where businesses are developing the river front. This side goes all the way to the island below Black Eagle dam. On the tip of that Island is a great place to grab shots of birds flying up the river. When they pass by they are flying low. They like to fly up below the dam and float back down to Giant Springs. The second option when you get to the other side of the bridge you can take the Wiseman Bridge to the east side of the river. From there you can take a right to get back up to Warden Park or take a left and head to Morony Dam, Giant Springs, Gibson Park, and Great Falls Skate Park or practically anywhere in Great Falls.
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