WHEN TALENTED PROFESSIONALS TALK, WE LISTEN.
Admit it, you have an inquiring mind, and you want to know about the team designing your dream home. We understand the inclination. So we decided to bring you shop talk-conversations with the talented pros designing, building, & outfitting your homes.
Pete & Linda Costain, Owners
Terraflow is a full-service trail building company based in Whitefish, Montana, owned and operated by Pete and Linda Costain. Specializing in the design, layout and construction of natural surface recreational trails, Terraflow has worked with public and private clients across the state, from Whitefish Legacy Partners to Yellowstone Club. Terraflow’s mission is to create dynamic, long-lasting trails that harmonize with the landscape and, most importantly, meet and exceed their clients’ expectations. Pete is lead trail designer and gets his hands dirty as much as possible, while Linda keeps the crews on point and the books in order. Their favorite project has been the creation of Legacy Bike Park with co-owners Mindful Designs.
How did you get into this business?
(Pete) I started riding mountain bikes in California way back in the 1980s and raced for years, before moving to Montana where I worked in multiple fields, including construction and excavation. It was this combination of trails-based recreation and earth-moving skills that allowed me to spearhead the construction of Whitefish Mountain Resort’s first bike park trail in 2007. In 2009 Linda and I declared ourselves professional trail builders, started Terraflow, and began building The Whitefish Trail.
How do you work with architects, builders, and designers?
(Pete) When working with private clients I begin project conversations with the general contractor and, when appropriate, the client themselves. This way I can get to know the client’s expectations and learn about their property and the scale of the project. Landscape architects are often my next point of contact, resulting in a collaborative relationship that lasts until project completion. The scale and timeframe of a project is frequently the determining factor for when trails are built. Sometimes clients will want to start with trails in order to more easily explore a tract of land, but frequently fuels reduction, landscape, and road construction will dictate that trails come at the tail end of a multi-year project.
What is something that most people don’t realize about your work?
(Linda) Many people don’t realize that proper trail building takes hours of field work before any trail is actually built. The best trails integrate themselves into the landscape, and the only way this happens is by the designer becoming intimately familiar with the geography of a place. Pete typically starts by looking at topo maps and photos of an area, followed by lots of time on the ground finding key property features such as viewsheds, unique trees, or rock outcroppings that make best use of land while minimizing the environmental impact. Only after layout do the crews fire up the fun stuff – the chainsaws, mini-excavators, and compactors.
Describe an interesting and unique project.
(Linda) Pete and I typically work in beautiful country, but our recent visit to Costa Rica to design a trail network for a Yellowstone Club client was pretty phenomenal. Scoping terrain in the jungle, surrounded by howler monkeys, was an experience we’ll cherish forever. Teaching trail building techniques to the local workforce was incredibly rewarding. Instead of excavators, the local crew used machetes, picks, and shovels to create a nine-mile coastal trail network. While we oversaw the beginning of construction, we can’t wait to go back and check the finished product out!
What do folks like about working for Terraflow?
(Pete) We’re fortunate to run a company that the right people love to work for. Trail building definitely isn’t for everyone, but for athletic folks who already live for mountain biking, trail running, or hiking, Terraflow offers the opportunity to be completely immersed in the great outdoors, creating long-lasting infrastructure that people will actually have fun with! Knowing that you’re helping clients to stay fit and enjoy their property to its fullest brings a feeling of satisfaction that’s hard to beat!
How did you get your start here?
(Linda) Pete and I met in Mammoth Lakes, California, where we were working for the resort. A friend of Pete’s kept telling us crazy stories about this mythical place called Bridger Bowl outside of Bozeman, so Pete talked me into moving there in the fall of 1990. A crazy winter ensued, but when summer rolled around I realized I loved water too much to live in Bozeman’s high desert so we cruised up to Whitefish in the fall and I immediately fell in love with the lakes and rivers. Life happened and we proceeded to successfully raise two boys to adulthood in this beautiful place.
What music do you listen to when you’re working?
(Pete) Oh man, that’s a tough one! I love music and I enjoy just about anything, especially music that sounds good in sound-canceling headphones. I only listen to music when I’m running machinery or driving and can be found listening to anything from Phoebe Bridgers to Jimi Hendrix to M83 to Kendrick Lamar. Sometimes I’ll stumble across classical and world music that opens doors for me, too. Fun fact: Linda and I caught Taylor Swift in March!
What’s on the top of your list as a great getaway?
(Pete) One of these winters Linda and I are going to do a couple months someplace with consistent, mellow surf, probably back to Costa Rica. My bucket list includes becoming a good surfer and I’m a really, really bad surfer at this point! Growing up in California, you might think I’d already be there, but I was kind of scared of the ocean as a little kid and surfing just never happened for me.