At the end of July, Montana BHA staff and volunteers spent three days with the Forest Service improving trails in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. The work will benefit hunters, high-alpine anglers, backpackers, and backcountry horsemen alike.
After meeting at basecamp, the Bear Creek Bunkhouse, on Friday morning we hit the trail. Our first order of work: clearing old water bars. Water bars help divert water off the trail, keeping the trail dry and stable. Over time, dirt, debris, and foliage may fill the water bars preventing them from doing their job. On day one, 38 water bars were cleared over a four-mile stretch of trail.
On day two, we addressed a second trail. Several miles of water bars were cleaned and a new task was started: repairing damaged tread. Many things can damage trail tread over time including landslides and uprooted trees. In this case, poor drainage paired with foot and horse traffic had caused ruts and erosion. Pickaxes and pulaskis were used to fill in holes and level out the trail.
After clearing 30 water bars and improving tread on 2.5 miles of trail, our group decided to hike a few more miles to summit the pass. We were rewarded with unmatched, 360-degree views of the Lee Metcalf Wilderness. We returned back to the bunkhouse to share dinner after nearly ten miles of hiking.
Sunday, we picked up where we left off fixing damaged tread before hiking back to the bunkhouse at noon to pack and depart. Over three days, our crew improved seven miles of trail, hiked over 2,400ft of elevation and covered more than 23 miles on foot. A huge thank you to our volunteers, Gastrognome meals, Timberline Ace, and the Beaverhead Deerlodge National Forest trails crew for making this work possible.
This project is part of our two-year effort to improve trails across the state in collaboration with the Forest Service, and thanks to the Montana Trail Stewardship Grant administered by Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks.
Interested in joining us next time? Sign up for stewardship-related email alerts here or browse upcoming events here.