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HIKING ON PUBLIC LAND

 Your interest in hiking in Montana is understandable given the vast open spaces available! The BLM and U.S. Forest Service regulate the use of roads, trails, and lands under their jurisdiction in order to meet specific land management objectives, protect resources, and provide public safety. When hiking or planning to hike, you should be aware that these regulations may result in restricting travel to certain roads and trails, or closing areas to specific modes of travel. These restrictions have been posted at the site. You may want to check with the local BLM or U.S. Forest Service office for more current or specific information, as well as any fire danger restrictions.

The BLM has established hiking areas in a number of public land areas. Areas open year round include Divide Bridge, Red Mountain (which is a nine-mile walk through Bear Trap Canyon), and Humbug Spires.

The following information details a few of the more prominent BLM areas in Montana.

Humbug Spires area is ideal for hiking due to its rolling hills graced with lodgepole pine, Douglas Fir, and majestic white granite spires. There are no specific trails and the land is not uncomfortably rugged. One can set their own direction in an unregimented area. Hikers of all ages and attitudes will find this to be a worthwhile venture. For more information on this area, contact the Butte Field Office.

Holter Lake/Sleeping Giant Recreation Area provides an excellent scenic setting, topped off by the Gates of the Mountain Canyon, for hikers to enjoy. Contact the Butte Field Office for more information on this area.

Centennial Mountains provide Montana with 21,000 acres of natural, unspoiled views of subalpine forests along the Continental Divide. Excellent views of the Red Rocks Lakes National Wildlife Refuge await the avid hiker. For more information on this area, contact the Dillon Field Office.

Bighorn Canyon is a spectacular area of sand hills, colorful canyons with 2,000-feet high cliffs, and prairie grasslands. Hiking is possible along Bad Pass Road throughout the area. For more information on this area, contact the National Park Service's web page for that area.

Pryor Mountains. This area allows the more experienced hiker a place to roam and explore along with the wild horses that inhabit the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range. Accessed by County Road 16, Sykes Coulee is visited by few and accessible by 4-wheel drive,high clearance vehicles only. A visit to this area rewards visitors with a sweeping view south into Bighorn Basin. This three mile area is rough, but the view from Sykes Ridge is worth the effort. Further down the road towards the open rocky South Ridge of East Pryor Mountain, there are a number of short (up to two miles round trip) hiking opportunities in the Wild Horse Park. For further information, contact the Billings Field Office.

Four areas along Ear Mountain have been designated as Outstanding Natural Areas (ONAs) due to their scenic quality and wild land resources. The ONAs total 13,087 acres and are located about 20 miles west of Choteau, Montana. For more information on this area, please contact the Lewistown Field Office.

Square Butte Natural Area, which is approximately 20 miles north of Stanford, Montana, is unique in geological, historical, and scenic values. Please contact the Lewistown Field Office for more information.

Upper Missouri National Wild and Scenic River offers outstanding hiking opportunities. This 149-mile segment of the Missouri is the only major portion of the mighty Missouri to be protected and preserved in its natural, free flowing state. It is also the premier segment of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. You may contact the Lewistown Field Office for more information on this area.

Collar Peak Trail. Scenic views of the Judith Mountains can be experienced from this trail. To obtain more trail information, contact the Lewistown Field Office.

Please help protect all natural areas and add to the enjoyment of others by "Treading Lightly." We ask that you pick up litter, observe and obey signs and posted areas, leave gates as you found them, and ask permission before entering private lands.

We have some printed information you may find useful. Send an email to the address below if you are interested in copies. Enjoy your hiking experience in Montana's great outdoors.