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!
This week, we send you into the Little Belt Mountains east of Helena for a hike featuring great views of the Smith River, several alpine creeks and a great place for fishing, photography and camping!
Monument Ridge to Deep Creek
Dip up and down through mixed forest and open meadows, with plenty of chances to enjoy large Bitterroot blooms, Lady-slippers and enough huckleberries to satisfy the hungriest of hikers!
Roundtrip: 6 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,000 feet
Directions: First, head to Great Falls.
From Missoula, head east on I-90 to the Bonner exit, and then follow Highway 200 east all the way to Interstate 15, just northwest of Great Falls. Take the Interstate east to Exit 278 near the airport. That puts you on Highway 87, which will wind through the southern part of town and then east and southeast towards Belt and Armington.
At the junction with Highway 89 (Armington Junction), you’ll turn right (west) onto Paul J Erickson Memorial Highway, which runs south along Belt Creek. Turn right onto Evans Riceville Road and into Sluice Boxes State Park, which sits on the northernmost edge of the Lewis and Clark National Forest. Take a left at the fork with Lick Creek Lane, and then follow that road until the junction with Logging Creek Road. Turn right onto Logging Creek Road and follow it south to the Deep Creek Trailhead.
Park a shuttle vehicle and continue down Logging Creek Road to the lookout for a great one-way hike back to the trailhead; or if you want to extend your hike, make it an out-and-back!
What to expect: The hike itself starts at Monument Ridge Trail 338/ Forest Service Road 269, northwest along Monument Ridge trail 338 to junction with trail 339. Here, the hike turns northeast to Mill Creek Pass, and from there back down to Logging Creek.
You’ll hike through high ridge parks and forests of pine, Douglas and alpine fir, with Bitterroot blooms at the right time as well as sightings of Lady-slippers, wild anise and huckleberry. Be on the lookout for fossils, lots of birds and GREAT VIEWS.
Follow trail 303 to the Deep Creek trail head, where a vehicle or two have been left in the morning before driving up to Monument Peak for the start of the hike.
This six- to seven-mile hike is generally level on the ridge top for several miles, and then you’ll drop down about 2000 feet into several miles of mixed forest and, finally, a couple miles of open south aspect hillside.
Note: There is no water available along the route until you reach Logging Creek.
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!