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

Wicked Creek Trail Development

Wicked TrailJune 19th - 23rd  (Thurs-Mon)


PROJECT UPDATE:

In late June, the ABWF held its first multi-day work trip of the summer, the Wicked Creek Trail south of Livingston.  This was a grand, collaborative effort, as the ABWF gathered workers from the Livingston Bike Club, the Montana Conservation Corps, and the USFS Yellowstone District trail crew to reestablish a trail from the West Fork of Mill Creek to the crest of the Wicked Creek Trail.  At one point I counted 18 people working the trail at once!   After 5 days of inspired work, a 6-mile trail that was once grown over and untraceable now connects Snowbank campground on Mill Creek up and over the ridge to the West Fork of Mill Creek. 

As mountain biking grows in popularity in our region and riders seek out more challenging terrain, there is greater temptation to “poach” trails in designated Wilderness.  Motorized vehicles and mechanized equipment such as bicycles are not allowed in Wilderness.  The ABWF understands that in order to protect Wilderness trails from illegal mountain-biking, more established trails should exist outside Wilderness.  We partnered with local biking groups to enhance the Wicked Creek Trail!  Cyclists can now complete the route, but the trail is also excellent for hikers and horseback riders.  There are outstanding views of the Absarokas up top in all directions!

Many, many thanks to John Greene, president of the Livingston Bike Club, for rallying so many great workers:  Mike Cimonetti, Dan & Pat Thums, Lee & Jeannie Watson, Paul Rice, Matt Hirsch, and Jordan Watt.  Thank you!  This group put in 155 hours towards the new trail!  Jordan rode the maiden voyage down the new trail.  Lee and Jeannie invited everyone for pizza and beer (and piano) at their house!

Noteworthy:  The ABWF received a $15,000 Grant from the Southern Montana Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) to sponsor this project.  The money paid for the District trail crew of Kat Barker, Lawson Maclean, Dana Petersen, Stephanie Shively, Myranda Hagemann, Caitlin Frawley, and Chris Magee.  The amount of trail we completed was staggering!  Lauren Oswald and Wendi Urie from the Forest’s head office brought muscle and ice cream treats!  The RAC grant supplied volunteers with food and equipment, and covered the ABWF’s coordination.  The MCC out of Bozeman joined us as well.  No wonder 2-½ miles of trail was cut over the course of 5 days!  Wow!

A nod to the ABWF volunteers!  Five women and 3 men logged 234 volunteer hoursMarina Nunez of Billings, Jerry Ladewig of Emigrant, Kelly Loud & Stuart Postiglione from Colorado, Janine Waller from YNP, Steve Caldwell of Livingston, and William Jenkins (from Georgia)—thank you all!  We base-camped at Snowbank campground and shared great food around the campfire every night!

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Many of you regularly utilize the multi-use Wicked Creek Trail system (#78) near the Mill Creek cabin south of Livingston.  This summer the ABWF received a grant to help the Yellowstone Ranger District restore the entire length of the Wicked Creek Trail.  Currently, from the Mill Creek Cabin, the trail climbs for a couple of miles to the summit of a long ridge, then drops down into the W. Fork of Mill Creek.  Two and a half miles of this trail on the south side of the divide is in such disrepair that it cannot be used.  Our aim is to restore the trail on the south end, by completing a lot of trail rebuilding (re-tread), posting, brushing and clearing the trail.  Because it melts out early in the season and is accessible year-round, it is popular with both locals and outdoor recreation users—from hikers and mountain bikers to hunters, skiers and trail runners. Bringing back the south side of Trail #78 to Forest Service specifications and making Wicked Creek a through-trail again would dramatically advance recreation opportunities in the area.  

The ABWF will assist the Yellowstone Ranger District trail crew on this project, providing volunteers to work alongside the regular crew.  We hope to gain the assistance of local mountain biking groups for the 5-day project.  We will utilize the Mill Creek Cabin as a base camp from where we will direct our efforts.  We will day-hike into the work area each day via the W. Fork Trailhead.  The ABWF will provide food, group camping gear and tools/safety equipment for its volunteers. 

Wicked Creek Trail Development Project

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