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

Wild Divide Chapter Walks

Photo by Tony Bynum

  

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Saturday, May 7

Big Log to Hunter Gulch Shuttle

Location: Helena
Public Land Management: Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 7 miles, 1,200 ft
Difficulty: Moderately - Strenuous
Leaders: Andy Kukolax and Bill FitzGerald

This is a great opportunity to take advantage of a shuttle to explore the Gates of the Mountains Wilderness. From a deep cave-filled canyon to open rolling sagebrush hillsides, we will have splendid views all the way as we slowly gain elevation. Come visit the home of elk, turkey vultures, and the elusive, iridescent green and watermelon-colored Lewis Woodpecker.  As carpets of wildflowers will certainly be aglow, we will keep an easy pace so as to savor the beauty.

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Saturday, May 21

McClellan Creek Headwaters

Location: Montana City
Public Land Management: Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 7.5 to 8 miles, 1,200 ft
Difficulty: Strenuous
Leaders: Nick Clarke and Kaelyn Clarke

Join us for this enjoyable hike into the unique and important Elkhorn Wildlife Management Unit. We will begin by following Willard Creek to its confluence with McClellan Creek, an area that provides a fascinating look into the 1988 Warm Springs Fire ecology. The hike continues along McClellan Creek to its headwaters in the northern portion of the roadless core of the Elkhorn Mountain Range.  Please bring a lunch, water, and layered clothing.

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Saturday, June 4

Sleeping Giant

Location: Helena
Public Land Management: Bureau of Land Management
Private Property
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 8 miles, 2,200 ft
Difficulty: Strenuous
Leaders: Wayne Chamberlin and Peter VanHorn

Join us on a classic Helena-area hike to this well-known landmark. This rugged perch lying within the Sleeping Giant Wilderness Study Area was included in a “Crown Jewel” list of wilderness recommendations sent to Congress by the Bureau of Land Management.  Our trek takes us through open grassland, dry forest, and scree slopes to the summit of the Giant’s Nose, where we will be rewarded with superlative views of the Missouri River, the Gates of the Mountains, and other west-central Montana mountain ranges.  Along the way we will discuss the area’s outstanding scenic, historic, and habitat values. Thanks to access granted by an adjacent landholder, this is a short but strenuous hike that gains over 2,000 feet in elevation and involves some non-technical scrambling and exposure to reach the summit. Bring a lunch, plenty of water, and layered clothing.  Must not be afraid of heights!

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Sunday, June 5

Missouri River Canyon

Location: York
Public Land Management: Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 9 miles, 2,400 ft
Difficulty: Extremely Strenuous
Leaders: Bob Bukantis and Anne Anglim

Join us for this beautiful hike into the Missouri River Canyon in the Big Belt Mountains.  We will enjoy near nonstop views as we hike through proposed additions to the Gates of the Mountains Wilderness and a portion of the current designated Wilderness.  This promises to be a great wildflower hike, with good possibilities to see bluebirds, raptors, and other wildlife. From the trailhead we will cross a ridge and then descend to the banks of Holter Reservoir and hike along the shore of the Missouri River to Coulter Campground, where we will then turn back. Bring water, rain gear, lunch, and snacks. In order to access our starting point we will need a few participants to provide high-clearance vehicles.

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Sunday, June 5

Sleeping Giant

Location: Helena
Public Land Management: Bureau of Land Management
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 8 miles, 2,000 ft
Difficulty: Strenuous
Leaders: Tom Kreissler and Joe Naiman-Sessions

Join us on a classic Helena-area hike to this well-known landmark. This rugged perch lying within the Sleeping Giant Wilderness Study Area was included in a “Crown Jewel” list of wilderness recommendations sent to Congress by the Bureau of Land Management.  Our trek takes us through open grassland, dry forest, and scree slopes to the summit of the Giant’s Nose, where we will be rewarded with superlative views of the Missouri River, the Gates of the Mountains, and other west-central Montana mountain ranges.  Along the way we will discuss the area’s outstanding scenic, historic, and habitat values. Thanks to access granted by an adjacent landholder, this is a short but strenuous hike that gains over 2,000 feet in elevation and involves some non-technical scrambling and exposure to reach the summit. Bring a lunch, plenty of water, and layered clothing.  Must not be afraid of heights!

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Saturday, June 11

Black Mountain

Location: Helena
Public Land Management: Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 5 miles, 1,000 ft
Difficulty: Moderately - Strenuous
Leaders: Doug Powell and Sonia Powell

Explore the serene Black Mountain Proposed Wilderness Area!  The area is located west of the Mount Helena Ridge Trail and has been under wilderness consideration since the late 1970s.  From Ten Mile Creek on the east slope of the Continental Divide to the trails of Helena’s south hills, Black Mountain sustains habitat for elk, mountain lion, bear, bobcat, and wolf.  We will search for sensitive native plant species and observe and discuss ecological changes occurring on the forest in this wild and diverse landscape.

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Saturday, June 11

Kading Cabin Ridge

Location: Helena
Public Land Management: Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 6 miles, 1,400 ft
Difficulty: Moderately - Strenuous
Leaders: Bill Hallinan and Marita Martiniak

This hike offers amazing views of valley bottoms, dense forests, meadows, and barren ridges mixed with streams, rivers, and lakes.  We will follow the trail up past Kading Cabin to the ridge above the Little Blackfoot River, where we will see the lay of the land—open, rolling ridge tops and the Little Blackfoot watershed. We will continue to walk along the ridge, out to a high point, and then descend along off-and-on trail routes back to the cabin.

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Sunday, June 12

Rogers Pass

Location: Lincoln
Public Land Management: Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 5 miles, 800 ft
Difficulty: Moderate
Meeting Time/Place: 8:00 a.m. at Ben Franklin parking lot (220 S. 27th St) in Helena or 10:30 a.m. at the trailhead 11 miles from Lincoln
Leaders: Maryalice Chester and Art Butler

Come along for a hike north from Rogers Pass on the Continental Divide Trail to a high point overlooking Cadotte Pass with views of the Scapegoat Wilderness and Silver King Mountain.  Wildflowers are sure to be abundant and colorful as the trail goes from forest to open slopes and back again. There are some steep areas.  It is nearly always windy, and squalls are common in June, so bring rain gear and warm layers, lunch, and plenty of water.

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Saturday, June 18

Sawmill Flats to Norwegian Gulch

Location: Augusta
Public Land Management: Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 6 miles, 1,200 ft
Difficulty: Strenuous
Meeting Time/Place: 9:00 a.m. at hike leader's house (2 Legion Street) in Augusta
Leaders: Len Kopec and Deva McKnight

On this hike we follow an important elk migration corridor, now protected as a Conservation Management Area by the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act.  Starting at Sawmill Flats, a steep climb through some open forest takes us to the top of Norwegian Gulch.  After catching our breath, we will follow a trail to a narrow saddle with a great view overlooking Home Gulch, where elk pass through on their way to their winter range.  We will return to the Norwegian saddle, then follow a trail though a young forest and open slopes down to our shuttle vehicles parked near the Sun River.

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Sunday, June 19

Hanging Valley

Location: York
Public Land Management: Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 12 miles, 2,800 ft
Difficulty: Extremely Strenuous
Leaders: Anne Anglim and Bob Bukantis

This challenging and rewarding hike is a Helena-area classic.  It starts with a steady ascent through a lush forest and then ascends switchbacks to stunning views of the Big Belt Mountains.  More switchbacks descend from the trail’s high point into a damp valley filled with old Douglas Firs and framed by steep cliffs.  The dry valley ends at a dramatic dry waterfall overlook with a vista of towering limestone cliffs and spires seemingly transplanted from Utah. Depending on conditions, a variety of orchids may be seen along the way.

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Sunday, June 19

Lewis & Clark Pass

Location: Lincoln
Public Land Management: Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 4 miles, 800 ft
Difficulty: Moderate
Leaders: Wilbur Rehmann and Larry Epstein

Celebrate Father's Day with a lovely walk along this historic pass traveled by Meriwether Lewis on his return trip from the Pacific Ocean. Along the route are traces of ancient travois trail used by Native Americans and plenty of history of the Corps of Discovery.  Captain Lewis explored this area on July 7, 1806 and in his journal wrote of, "discovering that this was the dividing ridge between the waters of the Columbia and those of the Missouri."  There will be many wildflowers to identify, some of which were noted in Lewis' journals.

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Thursday, June 23

Fairview Mountain

Location: Augusta
Public Land Management: Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 9 miles, 3,100 ft
Difficulty: Extremely Strenuous
Leaders: Katie Kotynski and Tom Kotynski

Come discover the beauty of the Rocky Mountain Front by climbing Fairview Mountain. This off-trail hike offers a series of waterfalls, terrific views, abundant wildflowers and wild country.  The exposed ridge provides a glorious walk through tall grasses and flowers to a large saddle, perfect for a picnic lunch with views in all directions.

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Friday, June 24

Mount Edith

Location: Townsend
Public Land Management: Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 7.5 miles, 2,530 ft
Difficulty: Extremely Strenuous
Leaders: Anne Anglim and Bob Bukantis

Join us on a walk to the highest point in the Big Belt Mountains (as well as Broadwater and Meagher Counties).  We will hope to see a dazzling array of early-season wildflowers, and possibly mountain goats. The bulk of the hike is on trail, except for the last part that sweeps across an alpine meadow.  The 360-degree views from the summit are a sight to see.  Bring waterproof footwear and layered clothing.

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Sunday, July 10

Nevada Mountain

Location: Helena
Public Land Management: Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 8 miles, 2,000 ft
Difficulty: Strenuous
Leaders: Wayne Chamberlin and Gary Ingman

Explore the Nevada Mountain Roadless Area, one of the largest remaining roadless tracts in the Helena National Forest. We will begin our hike at the Nevada Creek trailhead on the west side of the Continental Divide and hike up along the riparian area. Worthy of wilderness designation, it includes Black Mountain, Nevada Mountain, and a long segment of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail. Wildlife here includes elk, lynx, wolves, migrating grizzly bears, and wolverines. With the expertise of Gary Ingman we will look for evidence of bear activity in this important wildlife corridor.  Be prepared for several stream crossings.

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