VTC #4 – Vermilion River Trails

Home Discover the Wild Volunteer Trail Crew VTC #4 – Vermilion River Trails
Photo by Meg Killen

Project: Vermilion River Trails

Landscape: Cabinet Mountains

Partner: Backcountry Hunters and Anglers

Dates: June 13 – 16, 2019

Location: Vermilion River Trailheads – Kootenai Natl. Forest, Cabinet R.D.
Project Work: Clearing & Trail Maintenance
Camping: Frontcountry Car Camping
Project Difficulty: Strenuous
Volunteer Limit: 9
Volunteer Slots Available: FULL
Meeting Time & Place: Thursday, June 13th, 7:00 p.m. @ Willow Creek Campground


***This project is full. Further registrations will be placed on the waitlist.***


Project Description

MWA is excited to be returning to the Cabinet Mountains with Backcountry Hunters and Anglers for a trip to beautiful Vermilion River country. We'll base camp for the weekend in the southwest Cabinets along the Vermilion River. The crew will spend work days logging out deadfall along trails accessed by the Vermilion River road. We'll clear each trail until we hit the snowpack, then hike back down, shuttle to the next trail and do it all over again. We will perform spot maintenance tasks on the trail as we progress. These tasks include re-treading the trail, brushing the corridor and clearing drainage structures. 

Each day's coverage will vary depending on how many trees have fallen, the size of the down trees, and where we find the snowline in mid-June. No matter what we're sure to do plenty of hiking along the way. Come explore the remote southern Cabinets with us to help improve trail access!

**Note: Backcountry Hunters and Anglers Members Only from February 15 – March 15**

About the Area

"The Cabinets obtained their name from early French explorers who noted that the rock formations along the Clark Fork looked like boxes or cabinets. Most of these rock formations are now under the Cabinet Gorge Reservoir but some are still visible. Variety best describes the Cabinet Mountains, ranging from the high, rocky peaks often snowcapped year-round to groves of huge cedars in the canopied valleys. Hidden in the peaks and ridges are scores of deep blue lakes, feeding clear, cold streams that tumble to moose country below.

"The Cabinet Mountains have had use through time. The Kootenai Indians used the area to hunt big game. The mountain goat was prized for its pelt and was a rich food source. Many plants adapted only to high altitudes were gathered for food and medicines. Beginning in the 1880s the area was used by Euro Americans. The earliest and most extensive historic use has been mining activity. Mineralization was discovered in the southeast part of the Wilderness and since has become known as the Snowshoe Fault. Mining at some scale has occurred along this fault sporadically since the early 1900s. Clean and pure are the simplest and most accurate ways to describe the water that comes out of the Wilderness. Past studies have rated this water among the top 5% purest water in the lower 48 states." – Wilderness.net.

The Vermilion River flows south of the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness and is a border for three Inventoried Roadless Areas: Galena, Cataract Creek and Allen. All three IRAs contain proposed Wilderness additions in the Kootenai Forest Stakeholders Coalition agreement totaling 50,886 acres. These lands feature diverse forest structures and contain the headwaters for vital tributaries to the Clark Fork, Fisher River, and Vermilion River. They are also provide critical habitat to elk, grizzly, lynx, moose, bighorn sheep, wolverine, and bald eagles. The trails we are clearing on this project are all entry points into these IRAs.

Meeting Time & Place

Thursday, June 13th, 7:00 p.m. @ Willow Creek Campground
Directions from Trout Creek, MT:

  • Head north on Hwy 200 West, crossing over the river (1.2 mi)
  • Turn right on Blue Slide Rd./Vermilion Creek Rd (4.1 mi)
  • Turn left onto Vermilion Creek Rd./Forest Service Rd 154 (13.3 mi)
  • Campground is at the junction with Forest Service Road 367

Camping Details

We'll be camped all three nights at the Willow Creek Campground. This is a developed, frontcountry campground with a vault toilet. Reservations will be made for our group ahead of time and camping fees will be waived. There is no potable water at the campground.

Project Difficulty

This will be a Strenuous project. Our primary worksite will change throughout the weekend, but all the trails in this area have steady elevation gains. Daily hikes will vary depending on trail conditions - less down trees and higher snowlines means more hiking. Expect to hike a minimum of 5 miles every day. Maintenance tasks require digging and will get tiring. 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 14th. Last meal provided will be lunch on Sunday the 16th. 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. Since no potable water is available at the campground, please help by bringing drinking water with you for the weekend.

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