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 hiking along the rolling ridgelines of the Continental Divide on a trail marked by stunning wildflower meadows, rocky summits with sweeping views and wind-swept forests full of gnarled trees.
Roundtrip: 14.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,100 feet
Directions: From Missoula, head east on I-90 just a short jaunt to Bonner and then depart there onto Highway 200. Take the highway east all the way to Lincoln and then continue another 11 miles or so to its junction with Highway 279 (Flesher Pass Road).
Just over 23 miles later, the highway will make a hard curve to the left. Turn right, instead, onto the gravel road, Little Prickly Pear Road. Follow it for 5.5 miles and then turn right onto Marsh Creek Road (look for the sign). After a mile, the road splits – go left and then continue another 6 miles until you see the sign for 485-D1 on your left. If you have a low-clearance vehicle, park here; otherwise, you can continue another half-mile, where you’ll find a wooden fence and a small parking lot.
NOTE: The trail directly behind the fence here is NOT the CDT. You will continue on foot past the parking area another half-mile to reach the trailhead, which is clearly marked.
What to expect: The hike follows a rolling ridge line along the spine of the Continental Divide. Thought it occurs entirely between the elevations of 6,700 and 8,275 feet, you’ll end up climbing a little over 2,000 feet in each direction. You’ll also traverse through a broad range of terrain, from open grass meadows with seas of wildflowers to rocky summits with sweeping views of massive drainages to, finally, old forests with windblown trees.
There are a few spots where the trail peters out, but as long as you follow the ridge it picks back up after a few minutes. And a little off-trail trekking is required to reach the summit, but it’s only a short offshoot from the main trail.
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!