MONTANA WILDERNESS ASSOCIATION

Beginning this month and lasting throughout the summer and into the fall, Montana Wilderness Association is offering more than 100 free day hikes, overnight trips and trail-building and maintenance projects across some of the state’s most magnificent backcountry. These events are for members and nonmembers alike.

“It’s hard to beat the Bozeman area for great hiking because there are so many places in our part of the state to choose from,” MWA’s southwest Montana field director Sally Cathey said. “This year, we’ll be highlighting a number of areas we think deserve special attention in the next Custer Gallatin Forest plan, especially places in the Crazies and the Gallatins.”

Since the program’s beginnings in July 1962, when MWA founders Ken and Florence Baldwin led 40 hikers on the first Wilderness Walk to Table Mountain in the Spanish Peaks, the intention of the Wilderness Walks program has remained the same: to build grassroots support for wilderness and public lands by uniting a community around Montana’s special places. Now in its 55th season, MWA’s Wilderness Walks program continues to offer hikers of all ages and experience levels an opportunity to participate in traditional recreation opportunities while enjoying Montana’s quiet beauty and remaining wild places.

Below is a brief list of 2017 Wilderness Walks held near Bozeman, Livingston and Big Sky.

To view the entire Wilderness Walks schedule and to sign up, visit wildmontana.org/walks. For more information, contact Amanda Hagerty at (406) 443-7350, ext. 108 or at ahagerty@wildmontana.org.

Big Creek, Emigrant
Sunday, June 4

Wildflowers abound on this gently rolling trail that traverses the hillside above Big Creek, on the east side of the Hyalite Porcupine Buffalo Horn Wilderness Study Area. Colorful lava rock formations and cliffs streaked with orange and red appear on both sides of the river. Distance: 9 miles, moderately strenuous.

Sunlight Meadows, Bozeman
Friday, July 14

Explore a petrified forest in one of Montana’s finest Wilderness Study Areas. The Tom Miner Basin and Buffalo Horn Pass are in the middle of the Gallatin Petrified Forest, just north of the Yellowstone National Park boundary. Distance: 6.5 miles, moderately strenuous.

Eaglehead Mountain and Windy Pass, Big Sky
Sunday, July 16

A hike to the summit of Eaglehead Mountain showcases spectacular landscape views. Return along the Gallatin Crest to Windy Pass and then back to the trailhead. During the descent to Windy Pass, enjoy a kaleidoscope of wildflower meadows and more impressive views. Distance: 9 miles, extremely strenuous.

Crater Lake, Bozeman
Thursday, Aug. 3

This hike passes through the Hyalite Porcupine Buffalo Horn Wilderness Study Area, as well as through virgin forests and across several small streams and high mountain meadows to the spine of the Gallatin-Yellowstone River divide. Distance: 9 miles, strenuous.

Swan Creek, Big Sky
Friday, Aug. 11

A family hike along Swan Creek provides lots of shade as you gradually gain elevation. Swan Creek is located in a canyon area with mossy rock walls, lush meadows and wildflowers where one may see beaver and other wildlife. Distance: 4 to 6 miles, moderate.

Wild Gallatins, Big Sky
Saturday, Aug. 12

This hike will take you into the core of the wildest part of the Gallatin Range. Start by ascending the valley of Dailey Creek in Yellowstone National Park. After crossing a valley in the Gallatin Range, descend into Buffalo Horn Creek, exiting along a gurgling stream. Distance: 10 miles, strenuous.

Cabin Creek, West Yellowstone
Saturday, Aug. 12

Help locate a portion of the Hebgen Lake fault scarp that crosses Cabin Creek and the Cabin Creek Trail. The adventure will find you leisurely exploring a canyon just north of Earthquake Lake, the epicenter of the 1959 Hegben Lake earthquake. Distance: 6 miles, moderate.

Millie Burn and Divide Peak, Bozeman
Saturday, Sept. 16

Learn about the Millie Fire with U.S. Forest Service experts. After the discussion hike the Storm Castle drainage into the Hyalite Porcupine Buffalo Horn Wilderness Study Area and on to Divide Peak Ridge, an area that provides wonderful vistas of the Hyalite alpine zone and the Gallatin crest. Distance: 10 to 11 miles, extremely strenuous.

Passage Falls and Wallace Divide, Livingston
Saturday, Sept. 16

This waterfall hike travels up Wallace Creek to Wallace Pass. The pass connects trails in the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness, north of Yellowstone Park. The area has spectacular views both down-valley and of rocky cliffs where mountain goats can occasionally be spotted. Distance: 14 miles, extremely strenuous.