A perfect trail for families and experienced runners alike, the Lewis and Clark Pass Trail is a 2.4 mile trail of moderate difficulty. Starting from the Alice Creek Trail
, this extra-wide trail follows an old road that was the most popular way of crossing the Continental Divide in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.You'll begin in a recently burned conifer forest at the base of the trail, filled with Heartleaf Arnica flowers that bloom during the summer.
The trail begins to climb after roughly 0.3 miles, into grasslands and sparse pine trees, with beautiful views of the valley floor below. Ground squirrel nests greet you as you run along, as well as deer and elk that graze in the area. Halfway to the top of the trail, a small freshwater spring crosses the trail, providing a chance for runners to fill up any water bottles.
Runners once again enter a burned stand of trees, before climbing up into a grassy area on slope of the valley. In the late spring and early summer, these grasslands host abundant wildflowers in a huge array of colors. Common species to see are Howard's Alpine Forget-Me-Not, Larkspur, Sagebrush Buttercup, Pussytoes, and Milkvetches, and be on the lookout for small light-blue flowers of Missoula Phlox, a rare treat for flower enthusiasts.
When you reach the top of the rise, you are greeted with spectacular vistas of the Eastern Rocky Mountains, and a large sign proclaiming the historical significance of the site; Merriwether Lewis crossed the Continental Divide at this spot on his return journey from the Pacific Coast to the East in 1806. Beyond the sign is an open meadow that is the perfect spot to have a picnic and appreciate the scenery.
DRIVING DIRECTIONS: From Lincoln take MT-200 East approximately 10 miles to Alice Creek Road. Turn left onto the road and follow signs for the Alice Creek Trail
, about 10 miles. The road is paved to start but quickly becomes a gravel road, so be advised if you have a low-clearance car. Once at the trailhead, follow signs for the Lewis and Clark Pass Trail.