VTC – Big Timber Canyon

Home Discover the Wild Volunteer Trail Crew VTC – Big Timber Canyon
Photo by Meg Killen

Project: Big Timber Canyon

Landscape: Crazy Mountains

Dates: August 13 - 16, 2020

Location: Custer-Gallatin National Forest, Yellowstone R.D.
Project Work: Structure & Trail Maintenance
Camping: Frontcountry
Project Difficulty: Strenuous
Volunteer Limit: 8
Volunteer Slots Available: FULL
Meeting Time: Thursday, Aug. 13 at 7 p.m.
Meeting Place: Half Moon Campground



***This project is currently full and all new registrations will be added to the waitlist. However, cancellations are not uncommon. If you are interested in joining, the waitlist does hold promise.***

Project Description

MWA is thrilled to be returning to the Crazy Mountains again in 2020! Our crew will be heading up Big Timber Canyon each day to construct a turnpike below Twin Lakes. This structure will firm up a boggy section of the trail that is known to gobble up some loose boots and horseshoes early in the season. Building a turnpike is satisfying work. It requires a lot of teamwork and moving a lot of timber, rock, and gravel. At the end of the trip, you'll be able to look back on a finished product that leaves the trail in far better shape than before.

About the Area

Excerpt from "The Crazies: A Dramatic Island of Mountains in Central Montana" by Rick and Susie Graetz:

"Considered an island range owing to their location separate of the main Northern Rockies, the Crazy Mountains of south-central Montana are more akin to the Rockies than they are to the state’s other rounded and more forested isolated ranges. The valleys of the Yellowstone and Shields rivers set them well apart from the Absarokas to the south – and the Bridgers on the west. They are only about 30 miles by 15 miles in size but serve as sentinels on the horizon from many points east.

Here, the transition from prairie to mountains is dramatic. In a 20-mile span from the river bottoms of the Yellowstone to the pinnacle of Crazy Peak, the terrain rises more than 7,000 feet."

The Crazies..."are crowned by 11,214-foot Crazy Peak. With 25 pinnacles soaring to more than 10,000 feet, they are the third highest range in the state. Ice, wind and water erosion sculptured them and created the more than 40 jewel-like lakes scattered amongst the sharp saw-toothed ridges and alpine basins. Today, only one ice-age remnant remains Grasshopper Glacier, which clings to a north-facing headwall between Cottonwood and Rock lakes on the west perimeter.

Nearly vertical slopes lead to the highest summits and windswept barren ridges. Mountain goats find this terrain to their liking and frequent the steepest areas.                                                                                            

The northern flanks of the Crazy Mountains are gentler, and the vegetation more lush, than the rocky and precipitous southern reaches. The historic Musselshell River has its headwaters here in the north, and the Shields River begins its flow from the sheerer west ramparts. Sweet Grass Creek, heading toward the Yellowstone, rushes out of one of the deep eastern canyons."

Read the full article in the University of Montana's This Is Montana webseries.

Meeting Time & Place

Thursday August 13 - 7:00 PM @ Half Moon Campground

Directions from Big Timber:
Take US 191 North for 12 miles
Turn Left onto Big Timber Canyon Road and continue for 13 miles until it dead ends at the trailhead/campground

Camping Details

We will be frontcountry car camping for the weekend. We will be camped at the Half Moon Campground adjacent to the trailhead. There is a pit toilet and water available at the campground. Parking can be tight, so please be prepared to drop your gear off at the campsite and shuttle your vehicle a short distance to the parking area at the trailhead.

Project Difficulty

This will be a Strenuous project. We will be performing trail maintenance tasks that involve prolonged periods of digging, moving heavy materials and frequent bending over. Our daily hike will be in the 4 - 6 mile round trip range. 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 food and cooking equipment. First meal provided will be breakfast and lunch fixings on Friday. No dinner provided Thursday night, so please arrive having already made plans. The last meal provided will be lunch fixings on Sunday.

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 getting drinking water from the campground and will have several cubies on hand to minimize trips back and forth to the spigot.

More Information