VTC – Snowcrest Mountain

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

Project: Snowcrest Mountain

Landscape: Snowcrest Range

Project Dates: August 12 - 15, 2021

Location: Snowcrest Trail and Gilbert Trail – Custer-Gallatin Natl. Forest, Madison R.D.
Project Work: Trail Maintenance
Camping: Frontcountry Car Camping
Project Difficulty: Very Strenuous
Volunteer Limit: 8
Volunteer Slots Available: FULL
Meeting Time: Thursday, Aug. 12 at 7 p.m.
Meeting Place: Vigilante Guard Station


Project Description

Join the Volunteer Trail Crew for our first ever trip in the Snowcrest Range! We'll be working on the northern end of the Snowcrest and Gilbert trails beneath Snowcrest Mountain. These trails offer incredible alpine access, including ridge-top views of the Gravellys, Centennials, and Pioneers. Both trails have a host of maintenance needs, so we will come prepared to do whatever is needed. Expect to work on drainage structures, spot re-tread, and vegetation removal. Our day's will include steep hikes - if we progress to the top of Snowcrest Mountain we will have gained over 2000' elevation. Make sure you only sign up for this project if you have strong hiking legs. We will set up camp near the Ruby River, meaning you can unwind after a hard day's work with some swimming, fishing, and a riverside beer. 

*Due to the distance between our campsite and worksite trailhead, volunteers will have to drive their vehicles a few short miles and commute each day.

About the Area

Outside of hunting season, the wild Snowcrest Recommended Wilderness in southwest Montana sees few people. Rising from the valley bottom, the grasslands give way to Douglas fir, limber pine, aspen, spruce, and fir before turning into wild and rugged peaks well over 10,000 feet high. The range is home to a rich diversity of wildlife, including elk, bighorn sheep, grizzly bears, black bears, moose, mule deer, mountain lions, Swainson’s hawks, and golden eagles.

The area was historically a common shared hunting grounds of the Pikuni (Blackfeet), A’aninin (Gros-Ventre), Sélish (Bitterroot Salish), Qlispé (Pend d’Oreille), and Apsáalooke (Crow) tribes. Now, the headwaters for the Ruby River provide for irrigation and trout fisheries downstream. From the crest of the range, one can find solitude and prime vistas of surrounding mountain ranges and the Ruby valley below. Since 2016, MWA has been a member of the Ruby Valley Strategic Alliance, a group of local ranchers and conservationists which works to achieve long-term conservation goals in the Ruby watershed.

Meeting Time & Place

Thursday, Aug. 12 - 7 p.m. at Vigilante Guard Station
*Note - this is not the same cabin that is rented to the public, but the two are close to one another. Look for MWA sign or hardhats to signify our camp location.

From Twin Bridges, MT:

  • Head South on MT 287 for aprox. 20 miles
  • Turn Right onto 1st Street in Alder
  • Continue onto the Upper Ruby River Road
  • Continue South on the Ruby River Road/FSR 100 for aprox. 26 miles
  • Turn Left to reach the Vigilante Station

From Ennis, MT:

  • Follow MT 287 toward Virginia City and Alder for aprox. 22 miles
  • Turn Left onto Anderson Lane before reaching Alder
  • Turn Right onto Salmonsen Lane
  • Turn left onto Ruby River Road
  • Continue South on the Ruby River Road/FSR 100 for aprox. 26 miles
  • Turn Left to reach the Vigilante Station

Camping Details

The crew will be frontcountry car camping at the Vigilante Guard Station. This is a primitive camp set up. We will likely not have access to the cabin and everyone will be camping outdoors. There is potable water available nearby.

Project Difficulty

This will be a Very Strenuous project. Our daily hikes are certain to include substantial elevation gains. 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.

More Information


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