Welcome to the Trail Well Traveled!
Each Friday, in partnership with Montana Wilderness Association we will feature a new western Montana trail and then give one lucky listener some cool goodies to help them embark on their journey!
This fantastic day hike provides access to broad alpine meadows and big views of the Bob Marshall Wilderness and the prairies to the east. Expect to see brilliant wildflowers in the spring and early summer, beautiful views of snow-capped peaks in the fall – and wildlife like mule deer, bighorn sheep, elk and even bear!
Roundtrip: 6 miles
Elevation Gain: 1150 feet
Directions: Take Montana 200 through Lincoln, turn north when it intersects with Montana 287 and make your way to Augusta.
Just southwest of town you’ll intersect with Main Street. Take it just a few blocks to Eberl Street, then left on Benchmark Road towards Nilan Reservoir. After a half mile it turns to a well-graded gravel road and then another 14 miles or so you’ll bear right at the “No Tresspassing” sign by the cattle guard. This is a public roadway with access to the Lewis & Clark National Forest. A little over a mile you’ll see an old camp with cabins – but continue to bear right on the main road. Almost two miles after that you’ll arrive at Little Willow Creek, a small parking lot and the trailhead!
What to expect: The trail follows Little Willow Creek for the first quarter mile, passing through small aspen stands and sage meadows and then turns left up to Lime Gulch. If you cross Lime Creek, you’ve missed the turn.
You will gradually ascend through broad meadows and small stands of Doug Fir en route to the pass at the head of Lime Gulch. From here, enjoy views of Steamboat Mountain to the south and views of the Sawtooth Range to the north!
The trail up Lime Gulch is somewhat braided at times, making it unclear which of a few paths is the “main” trail. As long as you continue heading up Lime Gulch on any of the possible paths you’ll arrive at your destination – the broad meadows at the top of Lime Gulch. In spring and fall, expect the bottom of your boots to get muddy on the sometimes-slick trail, but there shouldn’t be any deep mud or puddles to contend with.
Tidbit: Thanks to the passage of the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act, as of December 2014 Lime Gulch is now considered a “Conservation Management Area. ” This status ensures that it will be forever managed to provide non-motorized recreation opportunities and to benefit the wildlife of the Rocky Mountain Front!
Learn more about this trail, file your own trip report and photos, or check out some other great hikes at hikewildmontana.org
And don’t forget to tune in to the Trail 103.3 each Friday at 9:50 am for the next featured trail and your chance to win!