• A woman rests on rock over looking Missouri River Breaks south of Malta. Photo by Tony Bynum/tonybynum.com

Eastern Wildlands Chapter Walks

Photo by Tony Bynum

  

1

Saturday, May 7

Tongue River Breaks

Location: Birney
Public Land Management: Custer Gallatin National Forest
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 5 to 6 miles, 400 ft
Difficulty: Moderate
Leaders: Larry Winslow and Terry Punt

Explore the multi-colored sandstone cliffs and pine-studded buttes of the Tongue River Valley. Birney-area ranchers Terry Punt and Jeanie Alderson will accompany the group and talk about what they and the Northern Plains Resource Council have done to protect this landscape, as well as the agricultural values in the Tongue River Valley.

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2

Saturday, May 7

Pompeys Pillar

Location: Billings
Public Land Management: Bureau of Land Management
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 3 to 4 miles, 200 ft
Difficulty: Easy
Leaders: Roger Otstot and Rita Harding

With Captain William Clark's signature sketched on a sandstone formation, Pompeys Pillar National Monument is known as the site of the only visible evidence of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.  This historic area also hosts an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) that most visitors do not see.  A Bureau of Land Management Ranger who is an authority on the ACEC, as well as the Pillar’s history, will accompany us.  We will see panoramic views of the Yellowstone Valley and hopefully a variety of local wildlife.  Pompeys Pillar is a testament to the important collaboration efforts between public land agencies, such as the BLM, and other conservation organizations, such as the Montana Wilderness Association.

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9

Saturday, May 21

Castle Butte

Location: Billings
Public Land Management: Bureau of Land Management
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 2 to 3 miles, 200 ft
Difficulty: Moderate
Leaders: Bethany Schatzke and Jennifer Alexander

Castle Butte is a hidden gem in eastern Montana. We will hike to the top of this beautiful butte and enjoy sweeping views of surrounding prairie wildlands.   The hike is a great combination of natural and cultural history and should allow us to experience petroglyphs, wildflowers, birds, and great views. Bring lunch and water, and wear closed-toe shoes.

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21

Saturday, June 4

Palisades Trail

Location: Red Lodge
Public Land Management: Custer Gallatin National Forest
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 5 miles, none
Difficulty: Easy
Leaders: Bernard Rose and Marge McArthur

Join us on a hike, great for both adults and kids, along one of the newest trails in the Beartooth Mountains.  The trail winds around the base of the Palisades in gently rolling country with great views to the north and east.  On a beautiful day the wildflowers are typically out.  Bring a rain jacket and be prepared for any kind of weather.  Bring a lunch and water.

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51

Saturday, June 25

Musselshell Breaks

Location: Lewistown
Public Land Management: Bureau of Land Management
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 4 to 5 miles, 300 ft
Difficulty: Moderate
Leaders: Mike Chapman and Matt Comer

Dovetail Creek is part of the remote and rugged breaks country near the Musselshell River. The landscape ranges from rolling hills to steep inclines and deep coulees with a mix of grasslands, scattered ponderosa pines, and forested draws. It is easy to see why the Bureau of Land Management identified this area as having wilderness characteristics. Guiding the hike will be Matt Comer, a wildlife biologist from the Lewistown Field Office who will talk about the wildlife values associated with the area and take the group to a location where a prescribed burn was conducted several years ago.

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52

Saturday, June 25

Bear Canyon

Location: Bridger
Public Land Management: Bureau of Land Management
Custer Gallatin National Forest
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 6 miles, >500 ft
Difficulty: Moderate
Leaders: Charlie Smillie and John Bradley

Join us for a hike to Bear Canyon, which will include views of Wyoming, and Beartooth Mountains and will also provide excellent bird-watching opportunities.  This area is a unique riparian ecosystem in the arid Pryor Mountains, with running water in the spring and early summer.  Come enjoy this hidden gem of a canyon, sporting unique topography, rare and rich habitat for many bird species, and a flavor of the Utah Canyonlands.

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69

Saturday, July 16

Sand Arroyo

Location: Fort Peck
Public Land Management: Bureau of Land Management
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 3 miles, 500 ft
Difficulty: Moderately - Strenuous
Leaders: Patti Scanlan and Doug Smith

From the ridgetop we will be able to look across a rugged and scenic landscape with a view of Fort Peck Lake in the distance. The area is known for its unusual rocks and fossils and provides a rare example of a continuous record from the end of the dinosaur age to the beginning of the age of mammals. An “Area of Critical Environmental Concern” is an administrative designation the Bureau of Land Management gave to Sand Arroyo to help protect and prevent irreparable damage to important paleontological resource values.  Local expert Doug Smith will co-lead the group and talk about the geologic history of the area.

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72

Sunday, July 17

Burnt Lodge Wilderness Study Area

Location: Glasgow
Public Land Management: Bureau of Land Management
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 6 miles, 500 ft
Difficulty: Moderately - Strenuous
Leaders: Ted Cogswell and Andrew McKean

Explore Burnt Lodge Wilderness Study Area, one of Eastern Montana’s most scenic wildlands. Hikers will mostly follow ridgetops with spectacular views of river breaks topography. The eroded terrain offers exposed sandstone, sheer walls, and castle-like formations. There are no developed trails, but hiking is generally easy among dispersed trees and open land. The Burnt Lodge WSA (about 14,000 acres) is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and borders the C.M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge. An additional 23,000 acres extends into the refuge and is managed as a proposed wilderness area.

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80

Saturday, July 23

Beartooth Lake

Location: Red Lodge
Public Land Management: Shoshone National Forest
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 6 to 7 miles, 1,000 ft
Difficulty: Moderately - Strenuous
Leaders: Bernard Rose and Marge McArthur

Join us on this hike to one of the most beautiful places in the Beartooth Mountains. We will start from Beartooth Lake Campground and explore the relatively flat Beartooth Plateau. There are several choices of destination and participants will determine our day's adventure. Along the way we will encounter some easy stream crossings. Bring a lunch, water, and prepare for changing weather.

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94

Friday, August 19

Rock Creek

Location: Hinsdale
Public Land Management: Bureau of Land Management
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 4 to 5 miles, 500 ft
Difficulty: Moderately - Strenuous
Leaders: Nancy Greenfield and Josh Chase

Rock Creek is approximately 9,200 acres in size and has been identified by the Bureau of Land Management as a “land with wilderness characteristics.” It is one of the few places along the Hi-Line where a perennial stream flows through a largely intact prairie setting. The extensive exposures of sandstone provide outstanding scenery as you hike through the canyons. Both greater sage-grouse strutting grounds and sharp-tail grouse dancing grounds exist in the area, and the diversity of native grasses in the unit provide quality grassland habitat for nesting birds. Cultural resources both known and unknown are present.  BLM Hi-Line Archaeologist Josh Chase will provide a history of human use in the area and help interpret human artifacts.  Be sure to bring plenty of water, lunch, and rain gear.

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95

Saturday, August 20

Bitter Creek Wilderness Study Area

Location: Glasgow
Public Land Management: Bureau of Land Management
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 3 to 5 miles, 200 ft
Difficulty: Moderate
Leaders: Mark Good and Jason Snellman

Join us for a real prairie wilderness experience at Bitter Creek, a 60,000-acre Bureau of Land Management managed Wilderness Study Area. This large expanse of shortgrass rolling prairie is one of the top birding areas in the region. You can also expect to see teepee rings and other historic artifacts. There are no formal trails but hiking is easy. Jason Snellman, a BLM Recreation Planner, will guide the group through a new remote access point on the north side of the Wilderness Study Area. Hikers have the option of car camping under the brilliant night sky but must bring their own gear. Four-wheel drive vehicles recommended.

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103

Saturday, September 17

Upper Layout Creek

Location: Lovell, WY
Public Land Management: National Park Service
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 4.4 miles, 1,330 ft
Difficulty: Moderately - Strenuous
Leaders: Rita Harding and Roger Otstot

Join us for one of the most spectacular hikes in the Pryor Mountains!  Layout Creek flows out of a deep canyon on the steep face of East Pryor Mountain.  The trail climbs up steep open slopes to jagged limestone cliffs of Sykes Ridge and then enters Upper Layout Creek Canyon.  The trail goes through thick timber before ending at a spring that feeds multiple streams and small waterfalls that flow down the canyon to form the creek.  This is one of few permanent streams in the Pryor Mountains and is a very rare fragile ecosystem for the arid Pryors, and among the streams and falls are semi-aquatic moss and plant gardens uncommon to the Pryors.   We linger here to have lunch and enjoy the magic of this hidden location.  As we return back down the trail, we are treated to stunning landscape views, and depending on time and weather, we may be able to explore historic Carolyn Lockhart Ranch, see tipi ring formations, or enjoy breathtaking views of the Bighorn and Devil Canyon confluence.

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106

Sunday, September 18

Terry Badlands & Natural Bridges

Location: Terry
Public Land Management: Bureau of Land Management
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 5 miles, 400 ft
Difficulty: Moderate
Leaders: Karen Stevenson and Mike Stevenson

Follow us into the Terry Badlands, first by crossing the old Milwaukee Railroad Bridge that spans the Yellowstone River to access the renowned bootlegging trail of yore, The Calypso Trail. We will stop and hike along a ridge with a view all the way to North Dakota. Stories are lurking around every rock formation as we wind our way to the Natural Bridges trailhead, where scenes from the Montana PBS documentary, "Evelyn Cameron: Pictures from a Worthy Life", were filmed. We will wander, wonder, and be wowed by buttes, deep draws, and bridges that span the layers of time. No wonder she - Evelyn Cameron - stayed!  A high clearance vehicle is needed to access these locations.

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