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, a hike through the Lionhead area of the Madison Range that offers Yellowstone-quality scenery without any of the crowds.
Sheep Lake Trail
Roundtrip: 13 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,630 feet
Directions: From Missoula, head east on I-90 through Butte and Whitehall to its juncture with Highway 287 at Cardwell. There you’ll take the highway south. About 40 miles past Ennis, almost to Quake Lake, you’ll turn right onto Highway 87. Sheep Creek Road is just off the northern end of that highway – turn here and follow it 3.5 miles to where it ends at a large parking area.
What to expect: The trail begins follows along Sheep Creek and even crosses it via footbridge several times in just the first three miles.
Between miles two and three the trail switchbacks away from the stream – but pay attention at the second switchback, where an indistinct footpath can be followed to view a cascading waterfall.
Back on the main trail, it soon opens into lovely meadows surrounded by rugged peaks. Views into the Madison Valley can occasionally be seen. At 4.5 miles, there is an intersection to the left, Coffin Lake Cutoff, Trail #216. Sheep Lake Trail continues under the Coffin Mountain cliffs and in the last half mile, begins to climb steeply. It eases off as it reaches a lush meadow just before reaching Sheep Lake, nestled in a cirque framed by numerous peaks.
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!