Day Trip: Hike the Snowcrest Range
Explore the Snowcrest Recommended Wilderness near Dillon
If you’re looking to avoid crowded trailheads, a trip to the Snowcrest Range southeast of Dillon may just be the ticket.
The range, which sits on the east side of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, includes rugged peaks well over 10,000 feet high. Teeming with wildlife, including elk, bighorn sheep, grizzlies, black bears, mountain lions, and more, you’re almost certain to spot an animal while exploring the Snowcrests.
Better yet, you’ll encounter very few hikers along the trails in the Snowcrests, allowing you to enjoy the rich and rugged landscape in solitude. This hike is a smidge over 22 miles, which makes it suitable for a very ambitious day hike or a moderate backpacking trip.
To reach the trailhead, take Interstate 15 past the University of Montana Western and then make a left onto Blacktail Deer Road. Continue on for 33.3 miles before heading east toward East Fork Blacktail Creek Campground for another 11.5 miles. The trailhead is conveniently located at the far end of the campground, which makes this the ideal place to spend the night so you can get an early start.
The start of the hike takes you along Blacktail Deer Creek, and over the next several miles you’ll gradually climb to a ridgeline offering expansive views of peaks and valleys. Expect to see wildflowers in the spring and early summer, along with multiple trail junctions along the way. Stick to trail #69 until about 11 miles in, then turn right onto Lawrence Creek Trail #669 which will drop down into a lush drainage and, eventually, connect back to the East Fork Blacktail Deer Creek Trail, completing the loop.
Since stopping by Fiesta Mexicana in Dillon is a must, I recommend making this hike a two-day trip to ensure you have time to grab a taco and a beer before heading home. However, the beauty of a hike is it can be however long you'd like it to be — you can flip around on the first leg of this trail and turn this into an out-and-back trip to meet your time constraints.
Snowcrest Loop Hike
Nearby campground: East Fork Blacktail Deer Creek Campground (located at the trailhead)
Nearest town: Dillon, MT - about 40 miles from the trailhead (driving directions)
Fiesta Mexicana Taco Bus
Good Mexican food in Montana? You betcha. Order your taco, burrito, or fajita from a bus-turned-food truck and bring it with you to Beaverhead Brewing Company next door.
Beaverhead Brewing Company
After picking up some grub from the taco bus, head over to Dillon’s local brewery, owned and operated by Dillon native Brett Maki. Brett developed his beer brewing chops in the Seattle microbrew scene, and came home and opened Beaverhead Brewing Company (named after the original brewery that operated in Dillon in the late 1800s and early 1900s). Beaverhead also crafts nonalcoholic root beer and ginger beer!
Patagonia Outlet Store
Dillon is home to Montana’s only Patagonia outlet store. Find discount deals on past-season gear and clothing, and even bring your old Patagonia clothing in for repair.
To find more trails less traveled, visit hikewildmontana.org to explore more than 350 trails across the state.
Keely provides communications support for our chapters, programs, and campaigns and manages our social media channels. In her free time, she enjoys fly fishing on Montana's scenic rivers, hiking, camping, and exploring public lands in her home state.