VTC #1 – North Fork Blackfoot

Home Discover the Wild Volunteer Trail Crew VTC #1 – North Fork Blackfoot
Photo by Meg Killen

Project: North Fork Blackfoot

Landscape: Blackfoot-Clearwater Valley

Dates: May 9 – 12, 2019

Location: Hobnail Tom Trail, Seeley Lake R.D.
Project Work: Trail Maintenance
Camping: Frontcountry Car Camping
Project Difficulty: Strenuous
Volunteer Limit: 8
Volunteer Slots Available: FULL
Meeting Time: Thursday, May 9th @ 7:00 p.m.
Meeting Place: North Fork TH – Outfitter Corrals

***This project is currently full. All further registrations will go to the waitlist.***


Project Description

The headwaters of the North Fork of the Blackfoot River flow from the Scapegoat Wilderness, the southernmost unit of the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex. "The Bob," as it is lovingly referred to by the adventurers who treasure it, is one of the nation's premier Wilderness areas. The Hobnail Tom Trail is a popular early-season access point into The Bob. The trail parallels the North Fork as it flows from the Continental Divide and through steep canyon walls toward the Blackfoot Valley.

Beginning in July, two old bridges over the North Fork will be replaced. Hikers and packers will need access to a river ford in order to cross. That's where our crew comes in.

Volunteers will spend the weekend constructing a new spur trail down to the river at the site of the first bridge. This bridge is just past the Wilderness boundary, about 3 miles from the trailhead. We'll need to clear a corridor and dig in a trail that can get pack strings and people to the ford. In addition, our crew will perform some routine maintenance on the Hobnail Tom Trail. If time allows we will also log out sections of the Lake Creek and Lake Mountain trails using crosscut saws.

This trip is a great way to kick start your summer of outdoor adventures! Join us for a weekend of meaningful work, great views and even better people. 

About the Area

The Scapegoat Wilderness was designated in 1972 through a grassroots community effort and earned a place in history as the first citizen-initiated wilderness area in the nation. That same collaborative spirit is alive today in the Blackfoot Clearwater Partnership. For the last decade, timber, recreation, and conservation interests have worked together to hash out lasting solutions to public lands management in the Blackfoot-Clearwater valley. The resulting Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act, which was introduced in Congress by Senator Tester, is the fruit of their labors. The bill did not pass last year but stand to be reintroduced in the future.

The BCSA would extend wilderness protection to an additional 80,000 acres in the Mission, Scapegoat and Bob Marshall Wilderness Areas. This would permanently protecting the North Fork of the Blackfoot, Monture Creek, Grizzly Basin, the wild Swan Front, and the West Fork of the Clearwater. These areas provide crucial habitat for grizzly bears, westslope cutthroat trout, bull trout, and the largest herd of mountain goats in the vicinity of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. The BCSA also increases the pace and scale of forest restoration, providing a boost to the local timber economy. Mountain bikers, hunters, snowmobiliers, and anglers all also stand to gain from the passing of the BCSA.

Click for more information on the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act

Meeting Time & Place

Thursday, May 9th, 7:00 p.m. @ North Fork Blackfoot Trailhead (Outfitter Corrals)
Directions from Seeley Lake, MT:

  • Head south on Highway 83
  • From the junction of Montana Highways 83 and 20 (also known as Clearwater Junction) travel east on Montana Highway 200 for 19.5 miles
  • Turn north on North Fork Blackfoot Road #5550 and follow the signs 10.5 miles on a gravel road to the trailhead
  • Turn left on a road just before the main parking area to access the Outfitter Corrals. This area is behind a locked gate and will not be accessible before 7:00 PM. MWA staff will have the key.

Camping Details

We'll be frontcountry car camping at the North Fork Blackfoot Trailhead. This will be a primitive set-up. Volunteers will help set up camp for the week, including installing a kitchen tarp. There is a pit toilet on site.

Project Difficulty

This will be a Strenuous project. Our primary worksite is 3 miles from camp, meaning we will have a minimum hike of 6 miles a day. There is little elevation gain along those 3 miles. Constructing a reroute is physically demanding work. It involves long, continuous stretches of digging and moving dirt. Our secondary work project is clearing up the Lake Mountain and Lake Creek trails. Long hikes (4 -10 miles roundtrip) with substantial elevation gains can be expected during Lake Mountain clearing. Please reach out if you have any questions or concerns about your ability to participate safely in this project.

*Note: project work is subject to change. Our tasks may become easier or more challenging. Your flexibility in the field is appreciated as we adapt to changing conditions. 

Food and Water

MWA will provide all meals and cooking equipment. However, please arrive Thursday evening having already eaten or prepared to make your own supper. Your first meal provided will be breakfast on Friday the 10th. Last meal provided will be lunch on Sunday the 12th. Dinner is not provided on Sunday evening. Volunteers are expected to help with food preparation and clean up on a rotating basis, but your crew leader will handle primary kitchen responsibilities. 

More Information