VTC – Nemesis Mountain

Home Discover the Wild Volunteer Trail Crew VTC – Nemesis Mountain
Photo by Meg Killen

Project: Nemesis Mountain

Landscape: Centennial Mountains Wilderness Study Area


Location: Continental Divide Trail – BLM, Ennis F.O.
Project Work: Trail Maintenance
Camping: Frontcountry Car Camping
Project Difficulty: Strenuous




Project Description

Our annual Volunteer Trail Crew project in the Centennials offers an excuse to head for the hills in one of Montana's most remote destinations. The Centennial Valley, home to Red Rock Lakes Wilderness, will be our crew's base for the extended weekend. Each day, we will venture into the mountains to complete trail work on the Continental Divide Trail.

MWA has been maintaining these trails every summer since 2012. We keep coming back because there is simply no better place to spend an August day in Montana. The trails are remote and thus challenging for the BLM to perform annual maintenance without our help. Come join us to explore a beautiful landscape while providing a valuable service to public lands.

About the Area

One of the few east-west trending divide ranges in the Northern Rockies, the Centennials are unlike any other region MWA works. The marshy Red Rock Lakes in the northern foothills create a stark contrast with the jagged peaks and steep canyons of the mountains. Notable peaks Nemesis and Red Rock soar to over 9000', giving a backdrop to the lake that rises over 3000' in less than a mile. Nestled within the Centennials is the Missouri River's ultimate headwaters in Hellroaring Creek, flowing out Hellroaring Canyon.

The Centennial Mountains are the southern boundary of the Centennial Valley which is home to the 32,350 acre Red Rocks Lake Wilderness. Managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, it was designated as Wilderness in 1976. This remote, virtually undeveloped basin holds an amazing system of waterways consisting of lakes and connected marshes that is managed for wildlife. More than 14,000 acres of wetlands provide habitat and solitude for a stunning array of birds and other wildlife. The wilderness comprises about 80 percent of a refuge that was established in 1935 to safeguard the rare trumpeter swan. Some 215 bird species have been observed within this wetlands wilderness. It is also excellent habitat for moose, elk, deer, and antelope.

The Centennials Wilderness Study area was designated in 1975. Since then, over 20,000 acres have been recommended for inclusion in the Wilderness preservation system. In addition to being critical grizzly bear habitat, about 60 miles of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail run through the Centennial Mountains. This landscape is truly a national treasure.

Meeting Time & Place

Thursday, Aug. 20, 7 p.m. at Nemesis Mountain Trailhead

To get to the Nemesis Mtn TH (near Red Rock Pass) follow these directions. It is strongly recommended you enter the Centennial Valley in from the East to minimize time spent driving on a rough gravel road.

From Ennis, MT:
Head South on HWY 287 for 41 miles
Turn Right onto MT - 87 toward Henrys Lake for 8.6 miles
Continue on ID 87 for 4 miles
Turn Right onto Henrys Lake Rd/Red Rock Pass Road to head toward Red Rock Pass
After 5.5 miles, continue onto Red Rock Pass Rd to Red Rock Pass
Follow this road up to Red Rock Pass and continue across the State Line toward Red Rock Lakes
About 1.5 miles past the pass, the road takes a hard 90-degree turn right. At this corner, there is a gate with a two-track road headed west. We will be camped about 1/4 mile down this two-track road.

Camping Details

The crew will be frontcountry car camping at the Nemesis Mtn Trailhead. This is a primitive camp set up. There is no potable water or vault toilet available.

Project Difficulty

This will be a Strenuous project. 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 kitchen equipment. The first meal provided will be breakfast on Friday morning. Please arrive on Thursday evening with your dinner already arranged. The last meal provided will be lunch fixings on Sunday.

Volunteers are expected to help with food preparation, but your crew leader will handle primary kitchen responsibilities. Since no potable water is available at the campground, please help by bringing drinking water with you for the week.

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