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 you some helpful details and tips to get on your way!
In the dead of winter, it’s not a bad time to dream of summer. This week, a hike along the Little Blackfoot River into the Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest and a stunning open meadow.
Round Trip: 8 miles
Total Elevation Gain: 1,110 feet
Directions: From Missoula, head east on Interstate 90 towards Butte. At Garrison Junction, take Highway 12 towards Helena. Just on the east side of a little town called Elliston you’ll see a turnoff on Little Blackfoot River Road to the right (south). Look for the sign that says “Kading Campground.” Turn here and follow the paved road about five miles and then continue on the unpaved portion for another 10 miles. Once you reach the campground, keep going and you’ll soon come across the turnout for the Blackfoot Meadow hike.
What to expect: Begin your hike at a relatively flat grade, and continue on a pleasant, well-maintained trail with the Little Blackfoot River meandering along your left. The trail is relatively straight with few steep inclines and the dirt trail is easily navigable- suitable for hiking, horseback riding, or mountain biking.
Early on, enter a forest of lodgepole pine and gradually gain elevation, as the trail crosses a few small streams. About a mile in, a fork in the road may cause confusion, as there is no signage. However, keep left at the fork, as the right leads to a gated, private area (look closely to see the fence of barbed wire that parallels the trail to the right for the first mile or so).
Soon after this, face your first real uphill, at the top of which the trail takes a left and crosses the river over a large bridge. From here, continue on a series of rolling up-and-downs, with the river now to the right. The ground from here on may tend to be a bit soggy, and occasional mud-wading or detours are necessary.
Soon you will come to another bridge – cross over and follow on for the last mile or so to the Meadows. All at once, at 4 miles in, you will come to a sign that says “Blackfoot Meadows.” You can turn around here for a nice 8 mile round-trip day hike or continue on.
There are two primitive campsites with fire rings along the meadow, both with river-side property. Continue along the trail to reach a turn-off to Monarch Mine Trail, or Larabee Gulch. Or, stay straight to reach the other end of the Blackfoot Meadow trail, which is the trailhead from Ontario Creek. The hike can be as long as you care to make it!
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 9:45 am for the next featured trail and your chance to win!
Big thanks to Rangitsch Bros RV for sponsoring the Trail Well Traveled. Proudly serving Missoula for over 56 years, whatever camper best suits your needs Rangitsch Bros has got it!