There are literally millions of acres in the Beaverhead and Gallatin National Forests along US 287. And where there are forests, there are trails. Trails for hiking, trails for horseback riding and trails for motorized access. In the Lee Metcalf Wilderness, access is non-motorized. Here the hiking, horseback riding and snowshoeing take place in the quiet of a wilderness area. Near Cameron, Montana, the most famous of the local hikes take you to the top of Sphinx Mountain or on a 12-mile loop on the Bear Creek Trails.
Just south of Ennis, another popular trailhead is “up Jack Creek” where three deeded easements provide access to the Spanish Peaks and the Cedar Creek Wilderness. The historic Diamond J Ranch Retreat is in the heart of this area and offers guided adventures and a dude-ranch setting. The Aspen Creek Trail also links through this area. For motorized enthusiasts, the trails near McAllister, Montana known as North and South Meadow Creek cover a wide area accessing logging roads, scenic drives and lots of elevation.
The Gravelly Range Road of the Tobacco Root mountains is another popular motorized area with vistas of the Madison and Ruby valleys from the ridgelines. Primitive camping sites for backpackers and hunting camps are allowed in much of the Beaverhead Forest and wildlife of all kinds is abundant. Elk, moose, deer, wolves and mountain lions all roam these wild forests. They are also home to black bear and grizzly bears, so be sure to follow all recommended food-storage guidelines and be “Bear Aware”. Whatever your skill and energy level, outdoor adventure in Big Sky country awaits!
Finding all these gems is easy. Start with our suggestions and for even more details and great local maps stop in at one of the ranger stations along the way. US Forest Service contacts for the Beaverhead National Forest: Madison Ranger Station 5 Forest Service Road Ennis, MT 59729 Phone: (406) 682-4253 District Ranger: Ken Harris.