Supporting stewardship of the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness 
and fostering appreciation of wild lands.

Stillwater River Trail Improvement Project

stillwater triailJuly 17th-24th (Thurs-Thurs)

PROJECT UPDATE:

In April, the ABWF was chosen to receive a $10,000 grant from the Southern Montana Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) to help further repair the middle section of the Stillwater Trail from Horseshoe Creek to the Wounded Man bridge.  The money made it possible to mount an ABWF/Forest Service expedition 16 miles up the Stillwater River where we could improve the trail and fix a bridge abutment.

Billings comes through!  Our volunteers were entirely from Billings and spent 7 days helping the ABWF fix trail that has been an impediment, especially to horse traffic, for decades.  Thanks to professors Lynne Fitzgerald and Jon Carling of the Health and Human Performance Department at MSU-Billings, who annually backpack, fish, and do trail service work in the Montana wilderness.  Four of their faculty, including Loretta Morgan and Pat Hughes, coaxed MSUB Outdoor Education students Camille Seed, Ben Smith, and Keith Wectawski, and high school seniors Marissa Henthorn and Alice Zeeb of the Upward Bound program to join us in the Stillwater.  Rene and Corby Freitag of Billings fit right in with our lively group from MSU!  None complained about the 16-mile hike into our camp, and the Stillwater offered welcome fishing and swimming holes at the end of the workday!

Fortunately for all of us, the Beartooth Backcountry Horsemen (John & Bonnie Chepulis, Dave Heinle,  Kristine Rickman, Dan Aadland, Howard Butler, Dick Martin, Judy Sailer, & Jim Anderson) lightened our loads using their stock and time to pack us in and out.  Allie Wood, Nolan Melin, Taylor Westhusin (ABWF’s Intern from Colorado) and Aaron Benjamin of the Beartooth Ranger District provided leadership.  Over 7 days we hiked and worked 50 miles of trail, marking the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act!

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Get to the heart of the Wilderness!  To the northwest of Cooke City, MT and Daisy Pass are the headwaters of the Stillwater River and the start of the classic 30-mile Stillwater Trail that ends near the Stillwater Mine outside Nye, Montana.  The ABWF is looking for 10-12 trail volunteers to continue our work on the improvement of this trail 8-miles north of the wilderness boundary at Abundance Lake.  Water has eroded the trail badly and the crew will need to add water bars, build up and fill in the trail, and widen it in places.  Work will progress down to the junction of the Stillwater and Horseshoe Creek, and afterwards we will complete the entire length of the Stillwater Trail and exit at Woodbine campground.  We’ll be working side by side with a Forest Service crew from the Beartooth Ranger District.

This is a multi-day effort requiring overnight camping fairly deep within the Wilderness.  The Forest Service will pack in food, tools, supplies and heavier personal equipment like tents and sleeping bags and will shuttle volunteers down the 4WD road into the trailhead from Daisy Pass.  We are therefore able to hike in much more easily with light packs.  We will have a canvas big-wall tent to cook and hang-out in.  All food is provided; you provide your own shelter and sleeping gear/personal effects.  The work will be somewhat more strenuous in difficulty, but there will be work for all abilities.  Because of the remoteness of this location, ideally we’re looking for volunteers who can commit to the 8-day stint, but if you can only volunteer for part of this trail camp, we can work out the details.  July 17-24.  Call David at 406-425-1944 or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.  The ABWF is partnering with MSU-Billings on this project and have received a grant to complete this work!

Stillwater River Trail Improvement Project

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