VTC – Trespass Creek

Photo by Meg Killen

Project: Trespass Creek

Landscape: Crazy Mountains

Dates: August 26 - 29, 2021

Location: Trespass Creek Trail - Custer-Gallatin National Forest, Yellowstone R.D.
Project Work: Trail Maintenance
Camping: Frontcountry
Project Difficulty: Strenuous
Volunteer Limit: 8
Volunteer Slots Available: FULL
Meeting Time: Thursday, Aug. 26 at 7 p.m.
Meeting Place: Cottonwood Creek TH



Project Description

Our Volunteer Trail Crew is headed back to the Crazy Mountains for another trail project. This time we will be working on the west side of the range along Trespass Creek. Trail #268 winds up a narrow wooded valley and provides access to Campfire and Moose Lakes. It has been several years since the trail has been maintained, so we will focus our efforts on getting it brushed out. We'll clip and saw vegetative growth encroaching in the trail corridor. We will also perform some maintenance tasks along the way, including spot retread and drainage work. Our efforts will go a long way toward keeping trails in the Crazy Mountains accessible for years to come!

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 26 - 7:00 PM @ Cottonwood Creek Trailhead (aprox.)

We will be dispersed camping near the Cottonwood Creek Trailhead off Forest Service Road 198. Our meeting place will be our campspot, which will be selected based off availability. The crew leader will mark our campspot so it is easily seen from the road - look for an MWA sign and/or hardhats to mark the spot. If you miss our camp, wait at the trailhead and the crew leader will lead a caravan shortly after 7 p.m. A map of the Crazies showing the Cottonwood Creek Trailhead is available here.

Directions to the Cottonwood Creek Trailhead from Livingston:

  • Head East on I-90 toward Big Timber
  • Take exit 340 for US 89 North
  • Drive North for aprox. 15 miles
  • Turn Right onto Cottonwood Bench Road and continue for 3 miles
  • Turn Right onto Cottonwood Road
  • Turn Left to stay on Cottonwood Road
  • Turn Right to stay on Cottonwood Road
  • Continue onto Upper Cottonwood Creek Road/Forest Service Road 198

Camping Details

We will be frontcountry car camping for the weekend off Forest Service Road 198. Our exact campspot is to be determined. The crew leader will arrive ahead of schedule to scout a location and mark camp so it is easily found. If you miss our camp, wait at the trailhead and the crew leader will lead a caravan shortly after 7 p.m. A map of the Crazies showing the Cottonwood Creek Trailhead is available here.

This will be a primitive campspot with no vault toilet or running water. Since camping is popular in this area, we may have to settle for a site that is relatively small. Please do not bring a trailer.

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. Since there is not potable water available at camp, please help by bringing enough drinking water to last you for the weekend.

More Information