VTC – Twin Lakes

Photo by Meg Killen

Project: Twin Lakes

Landscape: Northern Anaconda Range

Dates: July 25 - August 1, 2020

Location: Continental Divide Trail Alt. Route – Pintler R.D.
Project Work: Trail Maintenance
Camping: Backcountry (stock supported)
Project Difficulty: Strenuous
Volunteer Limit: 8
Volunteer Slots Available:  FULL
Meeting Time: Saturday, July 25 at 7 p.m.
Meeting Place: Twin Lakes Trailhead



Project Description

For the last eight summers, Montana Wilderness Association volunteers have been improving the Continental Divide Trail in the Anaconda Pintler Wilderness. This year, we're working with the Pintler Ranger District to try something a little different. Volunteers will establish base camp at beautiful Twin Lakes in the northern Ananconda Range, located within recommended wilderness additions to the AP. We'll be improving a popular alternate route of the CDT known as the Anaconda Cut-Off. This trail is frequently used by thru-hikers diverting their journey to resupply in the CDT Trail Town of Anaconda.

Our crew will perform general maintenance tasks, including retreading the trail grade, brushing vegetative growth out of the corridor, logging out deadfall, and improving drainage. This is crucial work to keep the trail in good shape for riders and hikers. The diversity of work tasks keep each day fresh and provide the opportunity to learn a lot about what goes into maintaining a trail. Come join us for a week of big views, rewarding work, and great company!

About the Area

One of the jewels of the Northern Rockies, the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness encompasses 158,615 acres and contains 45 miles of the Continental Divide Trail. It is one of the OG wilderness areas designated with the passage of the Wilderness Act of 1964.

The Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness straddles the Continental Divide along the crest of the Anaconda Range in southwestern Montana, positioned between the Bitterroot Valley to the northwest and the Big Hole Valley to the south. Streams and rivers drain to the Bitterroot and Big Hole rivers as well as Rock Creek. While the Anaconda Range’s permanent snowfields today are modest, the Wilderness protects a spectacular array of glacially carved landforms. These include tarn-pocked cirques, huge U-shaped valleys, knife-edged ridges (arêtes), and moraines. Elevations stretch from 5,100 feet along the canyon bottoms to 10,893 feet at West Goat Peak (one of several 10,000-plus-footers in the Wilderness).

Geologically, the Anacondas include Precambrian and Paleozoic limestones, sandstones, and other sedimentary layers struck with igneous intrusions. Canyon bottoms support riparian forests and willow thickets, while vegetation on the mountain slopes ranges from sagebrush in the foothills through spruce-fir and pine forests to subalpine communities of quaking aspen, whitebark pine, and alpine larch. Along the high Divide, bare rock, tundra, and snowfields reign. Native wildlife includes many of the large mammals indigenous to the Rockies at the time of Euro-American settlement, among them mule deer, elk, moose, mountain goat, bighorn sheep, wolverine, gray wolf, puma, black bear, and the odd grizzly bear. – Wilderness.net

Twin Lakes is located in recommended wilderness additions to the AP. We'll be working on the popular alternate route of the CDT that provides thru hikers with access into nearby Anaconda. It is also a popular section to loop hike from Storm Lake back down to Four Mile Basin.

Meeting Time & Place

Saturday, July 25, 7 p.m. at Twin Lakes Trailhead

Directions from Philipsburg, MT:
Drive south on Hwy 1 for aprox 17 miles
Turn Right onto Twin Lakes Creek Road/FSR 5131
Continue on Twin Lakes Creek Road for aprox 4 miles
Road dead ends at the trailhead

Directions from Anaconda, MT:
Drive west on Hwy 1 for aprox 10 miles
Turn Left onto Twin Lakes Creek Road/FSR 5131
Continue on Twin Lakes Creek Road for aprox 4 miles
Road dead ends at the trailhead

Camping Details

On Saturday evening, we will car camp near the Twin Lakes Trailhead. Sunday morning we will pack into our backcountry camp near Twin Lakes. This will be a primitive, backcountry camp. Upon arriving at camp we will set up a bear hang, dig a latrine, establish a kitchen with tarp cover, and being filtering water for the week. Leave No Trace and Bear Safety practices will be strictly followed throughout the week.

This is a stock-supported trip, meaning packers will be bringing in all of our group gear and food. Volunteers must be prepared to carry in all of their own personal gear in addition to a trail tool. There is always a chance packers will be able to take a tent or sleeping bag off your back, but do not bank on it. A huge thanks to our packer friends with the Back Country Horsemen!

Hike to Camp: 4.5 miles, 1700' elevation gain

Project Difficulty

This will be a Strenuous Project. The hike to camp will be arduous with 1700' elevation gain over 4.5 miles. Our primary worksite will be above Twin Lakes, requiring daily hikes ranging from 3 - 6 miles. Work tasks involve digging and moving heavy rock/logs. 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. No dinner will be provided Saturday night, so please plan accordingly. First meal provided will be breakfast Sunday morning and last meal will be lunch on our pack-out day.

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 filtering drinking water for the week and everyone's help in keeping the cubies full will be appreciated (MWA provides group water filters).

More Information