Editor’s note: This is a guest blog from Robynn Mattison with the city of Ketchum.

The Happy Trails Project is off to a happy start. The project – which will improve trail conditions and public access to the Big Wood River  –  has  already completed work on two of the thirteen trails slated for rehabilitation, connecting Ketchum residents and area visitors to the Big Wood River.

The city of Ketchum, in partnership with the Idaho Conservation League, received a grant from American Rivers to improve public access to the Big Wood River. Currently, there are 16 Big Wood River access points within city limits, yet only a few are marked with signs and some of the trails are overgrown with vegetation, making it difficult for people to know where they can access the river. The Happy Trails project will improve these conditions, supporting the restoration of trails and riverside land, remove noxious weeds, add signage, mark parking areas and reroute unsustainable trails.

Community support is a crucial part of the Happy Trails Project. Together with the Idaho Conservation League, we are working to generate support from local businesses and raise awareness with the general community. Jointly, we are facilitating volunteer opportunities to inspire community members to help with trail maintenance along 11 remaining paths.

Red-Day-Happy Trails

Keller Williams Sun Valley Realty was the first group to take advantage of this volunteer opportunity. They were among 134,000 Keller Williams associates worldwide participating in the real estate franchise’s annual RED Day (Renew, Energize and Donate). On this day, associates donate  a day to give back to their local community. Here in Sun Valley, they contributed labor to improve Bear Lane and Northwood Way trails – two trails that provide access to a 10-foot angler easement along the east side of the Big Wood River.

Twenty Keller Williams agents helped to dig paths, remove rocks and brush, and spread decomposed granite, a trail base that provides easier access for wheelchair users and those with other mobility issues.

"We were thrilled to perform such a fantastic project for Ketchum," said Keller William’s Lane Monroe. "Giving back to the community for this type of project is important to us. Public lands access is near and dear to Idahoans."

There will be plenty of opportunities to volunteer outside this summer with the city of Ketchum and Idaho Conservation League as a part of the Happy Trails Project. How can you lend a hand to improve trails in your community and connect with the Big Wood River?

– Robynn Mattison