The long-awaited trail to Mossbrae Falls moved a step closer to reality last week when the Dunsmuir City Council voted unanimously to formally approach Union Pacific Railroad with a proposal to lease some of the land needed for a major portion of the trail.

The short trail, only three-fourths of a mile long, would follow the current Hedge Creek Trail on city-owned land before connecting with a new section leading to the falls on the railroad’s property.

The proposed trail, designed by Tom Hesseldenz and actively supported by the Mount Shasta Trail Association, represents an end run around the sprawling Saint Germain Foundation property adjoining the falls. Years of negotiation with Saint Germain for a trail to the falls have produced no results, even after the religious organization was offered three times the appraised value of land needed for a trail, according to a report by Hesseldenz that was included in the city council agenda packet.

Both Hesseldenz and Joe Wirth of the Trail Association appeared before the Council Thursday evening to encourage the city to make a formal proposal to the railroad. Hesseldenz expressed the hope that an agreement can be worked out similar to the city’s lease of railroad property at Tauhindauli Park for a dollar a year.

The Trail Association’s presentation also included the welcome news that an anonymous donor had already guaranteed more than half of the estimated $520,000 needed to build the trail. The remaining funds, Hesseldenz noted, might be secured through applications to the McConnell Foundation, the Ford Family Foundation or the railroad itself.

The proposed trail, after reaching an existing promontory overlooking the Sacramento River, would follow a narrow route between the railroad tracks and the river before reaching the falls. It would include a pedestrian bridge across the river.

The railroad has long had safety concerns over tourists making the one-and-a-quarter-mile trek along its tracks to the falls. Social media and internet sites promoting the falls have dramatically increased this foot traffic in recent years.

So now the city is awaiting a response from the railroad, which had recently asked trail advocates for a formal proposal.

Even with the railroad’s approval, trail supporters face a number of challenges, including completion of an environmental review and three regulatory permits, and the construction of a route through steep-sided and rocky terrain.

But Hesseldenz, noting that a team of engineers, environmental planning consultants, a trail contractor, and other experts have already been assembled, predicted that people could be walking on a safe and dedicated trail to Mossbrae Falls by this coming summer.