VTC – Bison Mountain

Photo by Meg Killen

Project: Bison Mountain

Landscape: Electric Peak Recommended Wilderness

Dates: July 15 - 18, 2021

Partner: Continental Divide Trail Coalition

Location: Continental Divide Trail - Helena Ranger District
Project Work: Trail Maintenance
Camping: Frontcountry
Project Difficulty: Strenuous
Volunteer Limit: 8
Volunteer Slots Available: FULL
Meeting Time: Thursday, July 15 at 7 p.m.
Meeting Place: Dispersed camp off FSR #4104



Project Description

Our Volunteer Trail Crew is headed back up the Little Blackfoot River drainage for a weekend of trail maintenance near Bison Mountain. The Bison Mountain Connector Trail is a popular access point to the Continental Divide Trail. We'll improve the connector by clearing blowdown and brushing to widen the trail corridor. After this work is finished we will continue up to the Divide for maintenance on the CDT. This stretch of the CDT is on a scenic ridgeline providing views into the Electric Peak Recommended Wilderness. Its a climb to get up to the Divide, so come ready for some steep hiking. The feeling of accomplishment after a long weekend swinging pulaskis and sawing branches will be well worth the effort!

We are thrilled to be offering the project in partnership with the Continental Divide Trail Coalition! CDTC works to promote, protect, and complete the Continental Divide Trail. Learn more about their work here.

About the Area

The Electric Peak Recommended Wilderness is located southwest of Helena. The headwaters of the Little Blackfoot River sluice down from the Continental Divide and meander through the area's abundant forest and meadows. Cliff, Thunderbolt, and Bison Mountains dominate the horizon. The surrounding area has a rich history of mining with an abundance of vanished mining communities. Today, it is a popular spot for hunting and hiking. The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail traverses the area's southern boundary as it winds its way north past Bison Mountain up toward MacDonald Pass and the Nevada Mountain Recommended Wilderness.

MWA is a founding member of the Montana High Divide Trails, a group of local hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders, and conservationists working together to build and protect a wide-ranging trail system along the Continental Divide between the Pintler and Scapegoat wilderness areas. The Electric Peak Recommended Wilderness has long been a priority for this group. Volunteers have helped build a re-route near Kading Cabin that provides excellent multi-use recreation opportunities outside the Electric Peak area, diverting uses in an effort to preserve wilderness characteristics within the area.

Meeting Time & Place

Thursday, July 15, 7 p.m. at dispersed camp off Forest Service Road #4104. Your crew leader will arrive ahead of the meeting time to set up the campspot. Exact location is TBD, but we will establish camp as close to the Monarch Trailhead (where we will be working) as possible. A 4WD vehicle is not necessary to reach the trailhead, but a higher clearance vehicle (e.g. Subaru, truck) is advised.

To reach our camp, head towards the Monarch Trailhead and keep an eye out for makeshift signage/flagging/hardhats to indicate our camp before reaching the trailhead.

Directions to Monarch Trailhead from Highway 12 (east of Elliston and west of MacDonald Pass):

  • Head south on the Little Blackfoot River Road
  • Turn slight right onto FSR #227
  • Turn left onto FSR #123
  • Continue onto FSR #4104
  • FSR #4104 dead ends at the Monarch TH

A map is available here. If you happen to miss our camp location, wait at the Monarch TH and someone from our crew will come get you shortly after 7 p.m.

Camping Details

This is a frontcountry, car camping project. We will be dispersed camping so there will be no amenities. Space may end up being limited, so please do not bring a trailer. Follow the directions above under "Meeting Time & Place" to find our camp location. 

Project Difficulty

This will be a Strenuous project. The Bison Mountain Connector Trail is steep, gaining about 1000' over 1.25 miles. By the end of the trip we will likely have daily hikes ranging from 4 - 6 miles. Project work is varied, but each task will be physically strenuous. Please check in with MWA staff if you have any concerns about your ability to participate safely.

*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 meals and cooking gear for the project. No dinner will be provided on Thursday, so please arrive having already eaten or prepared to eat on your own. The first meal provided will be breakfast on Friday and the last meal provided will be lunch fixings on Sunday. Since there is no potable water at the camp spot, if you have a cubie at home please help by bringing some drinking water.

Volunteers are expected to help with food preparation and cleanup on a rotating basis, but your crew leader will handle primary kitchen responsibilities. 

More Information