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 weekend Craig sends us to a far-flung wilderness area north of Glasgow for a chance to stroll through 60,000 acres of grasslands and badlands – a prairie wonderful sure to delight, even in quiet winter.
Bitter Creek Wilderness Study Area
Round Trip: 6 miles
Total Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet
Directions: First, make your way to Hinsdale, in far northeast Montana. You can do that a number of ways, but there’s no shortcut. We recommend you take Interstate 90 east to Bonner, Highway 200 north to Interstate 15 and then heading east to Great Falls. From there, you’ll head up Highway 87 to the Highline – through Fort Benton, Big Sandy and the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation to Highway 2. Head east through Chinook and Malta.
Just past Hinsdale you’ll be looking for Britsch Road. There, turn north for about 15 miles. A high clearance vehicle is recommended because the road is rough in spots; when wet, it’s near impassable due to bentonite. There’s no official trailhead or parking area – just find a safe place to pull off the road.
What to expect: The 60,000 acre Bitter Creek Wilderness Study Area provides a real prairie wilderness experience. In the late spring, this large expanse of shortgrass rolling prairie will be in full bloom with wildflowers and birds. It is one of the top must-stop birding areas in the region. Expect also to see teepee rings and other historic artifacts.
Some extensive erosion resulting from glacial melt form the badlands terrain that you see throughout the Wilderness Study Area. The vegetation consists of prairie grasses, creeping juniper, buffalo berry and other shrubs. Mule deer, elk, antelope, sage grouse, sharp-tailed grouse, fox, coyote, rattlesnakes and other various species are found here.
There are no formal hiking trails here, but hiking is easy. Simply find a place to park, then leave your car behind to start wandering this beautiful landscape. Expect to travel up and down the breaks repeatedly, which will affect the total elevation gain.
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!