L.E. Dunn Road / Yellowstone Trail / Old Dunn Road – Park County

Resolution Accomplished

The L.E. Dunn Road is now a trail but it provides access to a mile and a half of the upper Yellowstone River near Emigrant, Montana. Other roads on different locations now serve the purpose once provided by the Old Dunn Road. Park County historian Jerry Brekke researched the historical value of the road/trail, which he said was created in the early 1900s as the L.E. Dunn Road. The road later became known as the Yellowstone Trail Road that drivers traveled to reach Yellowstone National Park.

The south end of the L.E. Dunn Road/ Yellowstone Trail runs from the end of Emigrant Meadows Road off Murphy Lane to the area of the Paradise Valley Estates subdivision in the Chicory Road area to the north. The trail runs through private land owned by Yellowstone River Ranch Estates LLC, or YRRE. Park County has an easement that allows for public, nonmotorized access to the trail, which runs about 1.5 miles, parallel to the Yellowstone River.

In 2007, a developer, planning a large subdivision, requested the easement be abandon. The commissioners refused. Because of access and historic values the Park County Commissioners did not abandon the 60 foot easement on the road. Instead, they turned it into a non motorized trail. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed to the effect that the trail would remain open to the public with interpretative signs and trail head facilities.

Sometime in August, someone removed the signs, put up a locked gate and a “No Trespassing” sign at the south end of the easement. At the Aug. 20, 2013 Park County Commission meeting, Mike McDaniel, Paradise Valley Homeowners Association, said the interpretive signs installed by the county at the south end of the L.E. Dunn Road trail were gone, as well as the “No Motorized Vehicles” sign. A locked gate was across the trail access point. The County Attorney was notified.

A meeting was held in early September 2013 and a number of local residents testified, including County Historian Jerry Breckke and PLWA representative Lou Goosey. The Commissioners upheld the public ownership of the trail and insisted the gate be removed and the signs be replaced. They considered bringing a Criminal Mischief Complaint against Yellowstone River Ranch Estates, who admitted installing the gate and removing the signs. The company claimed all this was large “misunderstanding”.

MR Breckke stated, “It is amazing how the atmosphere of the meeting changed when Lou Goosey entered the room wearing his PLWA hat.”






L.E. Dunn Road/Yellowstone Trail
Public Land/Water Access Association Inc. or PLWA,
is a citizen group organized and operated under the Montana nonprofit corporation act.
The Internal Revenue Service has made a determination that PLWA qualifies as a tax- exempt
organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and that it is a public charity.

Articles and Information on this site represent the opinion of the writer and are not intended as legal advice.
Legal counsel may be needed in dealing with specific access situations and issues.