VTC #13 – Jewel Basin

Home Discover the Wild Volunteer Trail Crew VTC #13 – Jewel Basin
Photo by Meg Killen

Project: Jewel Basin

Landscape: Swan Range

Dates: September 12 – 16, 2019

Location: Jewel Basin - Flathead Natl. Forest
Project Work: Trail Maintenance
Camping: Backcountry (no stock support)
Project Difficulty: Very Strenuous
Volunteer Limit: 6
Volunteer Slots Available: 2
Meeting Time & Place: Thursday, September 12th, 11:00 a.m. @ Clayton Lake TH (FS Road #1633)


Project Description

Montana Wilderness Association has been advocating for protections for the Jewel Basin for over fifty years. (Want proof? Check out this awesome video made in 1963...throwback!) This summer, MWA is thrilled to be returning for another stewardship project in the Jewel. Our Volunteer Trail Crew will be heading into the backcountry to camp at one of the Jewel's famed alpine lakes and will work to improve nearby trails.

This project is a backcountry, non-stock supported project which means we are in for an extra challenge. We will be carrying in all of our gear, food and tools for the weekend. Our will depart for camp shortly after meeting Thursday morning. We will spend the rest of the day hiking to camp at Clayton Lake, setting up a bear hang and settling in for the weekend.

For the next three days, we'll perform trail maintenance tasks near our base camp. Project tasks include brushing the corridor, installing drainage features and performing spot retread. This is crucial work to help maintain the Jewel's world class network of hiking trails. On Monday morning we will pack up and head back to the trailhead.

About the Area

The Jewel Basin's alpine lakes, rugged peaks, and ever-present mountain goats make it the quintessential northwest Montana landscape. The Jewel is home to some of the best hiking in the state, featuring loops that connect crystal clear lakes, mountain summits, and alpine meadows. This specially-designated 15,000 acre hiking area in the Swan Range features 27 named lakes and 35 miles of trail. From atop famed Mount Aeneas, one can take in views of Glacier National Park, the Bob Marshall Wilderness, and Flathead Lake.

Meeting Time & Place

Thursday, September 12th, 11:00 a.m. @ Clayton Lake Trailhead (FS Road #1633)

Directions from Hungry Horse:

  • From Highway 2, head south on the West Side Road toward Hungry Horse Dam
  • Cross over Hungry Horse Dam and continue south on the West Side Road
  • Continue south for approx. 16 miles
  • Turn right onto Forest Service Road #1633 (this turn is just south of the Clayton Creek crossing)
  • Follow FSR #1633 until it dead ends at the Clayton Lake Trailhead

Google Maps Directions Here

Camping Details

We'll be camped at Clayton Lake for the weekend. This is a backcountry, non-stock supported project. We will carry our tools, gear, and food on our backs and establish a base camp near our work location. This will be a primitive camp. Upon arrival, volunteers will help set up a kitchen area with rain shelter, begin filtering water to last the week, and set up a bear hang for crew food. Bear Safe practices and Leave No Trace Principles will be strictly followed throughout the week.

Hike to Camp: 3 miles, 1500' elevation gain

Project Difficulty

This will be a very strenous project. We will need to hike all of our gear and tools into our backcountry camp. You will have a much heavier pack than if you were on a personal backcountry outing. We ask each volunteer bring their largest backpack to accommodate our gear (minimum 55 liter capacity). Although our exact campsite is still TBD, we can expect a hike in of approximately 5 miles. 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 conditons. 

Food and Water

MWA will provide all dinners and cooking equipment. First meal provided will be dinner Thursday evening. All volunteers will be supplying their own breakfast, lunch and snack foods. Since this is a backcountry trip without stock support, meals and kitchen equipment will be more spartan than typical for MWA trips. Please come prepared to eat "backpacker fare" and know we will have to hike in all food and hike out all trash.

Volunteers are expected to help with food preparation and clean up on a rotating basis, but your crew leader will handle primary kitchen responsibilities. We will be filtering drinking water for the week and everyone's help in keeping the cubies full will be appreciated (MWA provides group water filters).

More Information