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West Fork Mill Creek Loop

Intermediate

Trail

25.3 mile 40.7 kilometer loop
86% Runnable
Intermediate

Elevation

Ascent: 4,673' 1,424 m
Descent: -4,669' -1,423 m
High: 9,505' 2,897 m
Low: 6,466' 1,971 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 7% (4°)
Max Grade: 25% (14°)

Dogs

Leashed
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Trail shared by samh Haraldson

An overnight or weekend loop free from crowds.

samh Haraldson

Features Birding · Lake · River/Creek · Swimming · Wildlife

Overview

Car to car loop runs are great because they let you see new scenery every day without the hassle or environmentally-taxing car shuttle. This one is close to home if you're a Bozeman or Livingston resident.

Description

Drive up the well-graded gravel road along the West Fork of the Mill Creek drainage until you can go no further. Here lies a trailhead into the massive Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Complex, a 900,000-acre expanse containing thousands of high peaks and all the beautiful valleys between them.

This 25-mile round-trip run is great for a weekend. Head in on a Friday night and run up the Thompson Lake Trail until just before dark, set up camp on the shores of Thompson Lake, relax and enjoy the quiet night. If you arrive at dusk or if you awake early be sure to cast your fly rod into the waters of this region.

The next morning, prepare for a longer day and run continuing up Thompson Lake Trail to the junction with Horse Creek Divide Trail. Take this to the junction with Knox Lake Trail heading west either to Castle Lake, or if you want just a little more climbing, up the hill to Fish Lake. This country is not too oft-visited so take your time to appreciate the solitude of these backcountry lakes.

On the last day, run along Knox Lake Trail to the junction with Monitor Peak Trail where you'll turn to the northeast. Run the remaining miles back to Thompson Lake Trail and turn north towards your car enjoying the babbling creeks and occasional waterfall along the way. The terrain flows gently downhill, easy on the knees and the perfect way to round out a weekend of running.

After the trailhead hit up the Pine Creek Cafe for good, local food just aways up in Paradise Valley, or Mark's In-N-Out in Livingston if you're feeling more like greasy burgers and fries.

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  5.0 from 1 vote

#1118

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Run Rankings

#32

in Montana

#1,118

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4,262 Since Apr 24, 2015
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Photos

Sourcing water on the Knox Lake Trail.
Apr 24, 2015 near Gardiner, MT
Thompson Lake.
Apr 24, 2015 near Gardiner, MT
Hiking through the woods on the Horse Creek Divide Trail
Apr 24, 2015 near Gardiner, MT

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