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  1. #1
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    Best Destination in Montana?

    Hi Guys,

    I was planning a multi-week vacation trip this season that fell through due to financials, so I'm now considering a week(ish)-long trip that is closer to home. Montana looks beautiful, and I've never been, so I'm considering that as my destination in late August or early September.

    My preference is one location to camp at for the duration, and I'd like it to be a nice campground with shower facilities, and of course great trails in the area.

    There appears to be a few options, so I'm having difficulty deciding which place will be my best bet, as I may not be back in the area any time soon (or ever)

    So any opinions on where I should go that offer "must do trails", and stay would be greatly appreciated. So far I was thinking around Bozeman, but also read about some stuff closer to the Idaho border, but I'm open to suggestions.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by dhnatch View Post
    Hi Guys,

    I was planning a multi-week vacation trip this season that fell through due to financials, so I'm now considering a week(ish)-long trip that is closer to home. Montana looks beautiful, and I've never been, so I'm considering that as my destination in late August or early September.

    My preference is one location to camp at for the duration, and I'd like it to be a nice campground with shower facilities, and of course great trails in the area.

    There appears to be a few options, so I'm having difficulty deciding which place will be my best bet, as I may not be back in the area any time soon (or ever)

    So any opinions on where I should go that offer "must do trails", and stay would be greatly appreciated. So far I was thinking around Bozeman, but also read about some stuff closer to the Idaho border, but I'm open to suggestions.

    Thanks.
    I don't usually pay to camp, and I can't think (offhand) of many National Forest campsites that have hot showers.

    I'd suggest getting a solar shower, which would open your options.

    That said, you could spend a week down by Idaho border (Henrys) and do 4-5 rides.

    There's a ton of camping @ Cliff & Wade Lakes which isn't too far from the trailheads, or along the South Side of Hebgen Lake.

    I don't think there's too many places in BZN where you could do a weeks worth of riding without driving.

    If you went up to Hyalite you could do: Emerald, History Rock, Blackmore to Cottonwood, but not nearly as "good" riding as Lionhead/Henrys Mountains near the border

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the reply Montana Rider. If it comes down to it, I could do without the showers if it results in access to the best possible trails. From what you've said, it sounds like Henry's Mountains/Lionhead has the best that the region has to offer? Is there potable water in the camping areas, or do you need to bring it in or filter it yourself?

  4. #4
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    There are showers at Redfish Lake in Idaho and plenty of great riding around Stanley Idaho. Skip Montana!
    Live to ride!

    Cannondale Jekyll Carbon 1
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by smilycook View Post
    There are showers at Redfish Lake in Idaho and plenty of great riding around Stanley Idaho. Skip Montana!
    Heh, yeah, it's a slippery slope. I'm pushing my financial limits even venturing out to Montana, and further than I wanted to go, so I just gotta draw the line. It's one of those situations where I really shouldn't be going at all, but something has to be said for mental health. And for me, camping and mountain biking cures all

  6. #6
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    Yeah, camping in the national forest campgrounds is pretty primitive, usually just a pit toliet and picnic tables, but sometimes there is drinking water. The good thing is, there is usually tons of free camping, so I usually do not bother paying for an actual campground. Bring a water filter or bottled water.

    If I were you, I would take a tour of MT and ride in several places rather than stay in one spot. Your profile indicates your are coming from Manitoba, eh? Where will you enter MT? Perhaps I can fashion a route for you, hitting a few good spots. At the very least, if you go to Bozeman/West Yellowstone, hit up the Big Snowies Crest (by lewistown) on your way down there.

    A few of my favorite rides in MT: Big Snowies Crest (judith Gap), Bangtail Divide (Bozeman), Line Creek Plateau (Red Lodge). Curly Lake Highline (Whitehall) used to be the best, but it is getting ruined by motorcycles. Missoula is also rad, with tons of options, but its pretty far from Manitoba

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the feedback and info rth009. Yup, coming from Manitoba, so it's a little bit of a haul for one person, but closer than my original plan of going to Oregon (hopefully next year). I'd likely be coming in from the East on Interstate 94W.

    Packing up all the time and moving is kind of a pain in the butt, and wastes a bit of time that could be spent riding. But on the other hand, it would be nice to see other areas and a variety of scenery. Bangtail was actually the first one I came across when searching for places to go. Going the free camping route does sound appealing, and may enable me to stay longer without that cost, especially if there's water sources close for washing and dishes etc.

    Time isn't as much an issue for me, just money, which transportation is likely the biggest expense.

    "Montana Rider" has been very helpful with some additional info as well, and I'm certainly open to other opinions for a suggested route, "must do" trails, and any other free or paid camping options that anyone has experience with. There certainly seems to be tons of camping options, but it's so hard to tell from website info what they're like. The one thing I don't like is sites in open fields or overly developed sites. It's nice to have a little bit of privacy and feel like you're in the outdoors.

    Thanks again guys.

  8. #8
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    If the Bangtail Divide is on your list you could camp at the Battle Ridge Campground about 1.5 miles and one big hill north of the northern terminus of the Divide Trail. It has no showers and I don't think they have water either but I think it is free. From there you could ride the Bangtail Divide Trail as a loop with about 10 miles of road riding and 25 of singletrack.

    On another day you could ride the Shafthouse Trail near the Fairy Lake area (better camping but not really within riding distance of Bangtail Divide). That will require about 7 miles of mostly dirt road riding to get to the trailhead and a long but doable ride back up the pavement to your camp.

  9. #9
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    The Henry's Mountains/South Madisons that Montana Rider is recommending are great rides, but also are serious wilderness epics with lots of bears. You're not likely to see another person, especially mid week. Personally, I wouldn't ride in there by myself.

  10. #10
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    Thanks guys. Biking right from camp would be great, but driving to trailheads isn't a big deal either if it's not too far (like under a half and hour). From the sounds of it, there are pretty good concentrations of trails in the different areas, which is good.

    Yeah, others have advised me of the bear situation as well, and riding alone in the more remote areas, so that's something I'll have to think about.

  11. #11
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    if you are driving on I-90. there is some kick ass trails off of homestake pass near butte,mt. easy access and ripping trails just seconds off of the interstate.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by dhnatch View Post
    Yeah, others have advised me of the bear situation as well, and riding alone in the more remote areas, so that's something I'll have to think about.
    I'm with Panchosdad on that one. I'm hesitant to ride in those areas without a group. Aside from bears, a tweaked ankle or shoulder way back in those areas would be a bugger to deal with without help around.

  13. #13
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    Yes, I can't argue the fact that going alone in a remote area is generally a bad idea, and you're taking a risk doing so, whether it be from injury or wildlife attack. From past experience, I tend to generally ride safer when I'm alone and find myself taking more risks when riding with others. But again, accidents happen no matter how safe you might think you're being. And it's always a good idea to tell someone where you're going and when you'll be back such as the parks, neighbor at your campsite, note etc. This of course doesn't help in prevention of wildlife attacks. The more people with you, the less likely they are to occur. Again, I'm not trying to argue your point at all, just pointing out some ways to 'reduce' the risk.

  14. #14
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    Personal decision obviously, no right or wrong.

  15. #15
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    And a counterpoint: I ride alone 99% of the time (much to my wife's chagrin) around town or down in the Henry's. It's obviously better to find a partner if possible, but I (personally) wouldn't let the fact that you might be solo prevent you from riding our "best" trails.

    Post your dates when you figure them out, and maybe you can find a partner or 3...
    Last edited by Montana Rider; 08-03-2013 at 07:21 AM.

  16. #16
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    Be safe. Ride with a partner or at least carry accessible bear spray at Lionhead or the Southern Madison trails. A biker was charged last August in the upper Watkins drainage. He got away with a warning. The trails are hazardous and anything could happen. That being said one could ride for a week in that area. You'll need to pack your camp each morning and follow all of the Forest Service food storage and camping recommendations. Hard sided camping is a preferred method.
    I don't know what trail we're on, but at least it's getting dark

  17. #17
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    This all being said, you need to seriously look into riding around Whitefish. Good soil, good trails, good beer. Check out Crane Mountain Trails supporters on Facebook and the Whitefish Bike Retreat.
    I don't know what trail we're on, but at least it's getting dark

  18. #18
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    Whitefish offers a lot of riding close by - within 10 miles of town you have trail systems at spencer mtn, pig farm, big mtn , haskill basin and the whitefish trail system. Obviously farther out you have many more options. Crickets Place (whitefish bike retreat
    Whitefish Bike Retreat - A Dedicated Cycling Retreat For All Your Biking Needs ? Montana's First and Only Bike Retreat ? Open All Seasons For All Adventures) is new this year, has been busy and is getting great reviews
    Lots of beer ,wine and ding options here as well

    We do have bears here though, don't let that stop you , just be smart

  19. #19
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    why, when i pasted the address in did the description above come up?

  20. #20
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    Hi , I will be in Whitefish today Friday and tomorrow Saturday will be looking to rent a mtb in town and check the Whitefish trail . I will be camping at whitefish lake campground for the weekend . Should be fun for me !

  21. #21
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    you probably know this by now but Glacier cycles, sportsman skihaus and great northern all rent bikes , great northern has some bikes at stillwater lodge out by the beaver lake trail head, i believe all open at 9 on saturdays
    where are you thinking of riding?

  22. #22
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    Hi ,I was going to ride the Whitefish lake trail . Looks like the bike shops are closed on Sunday so I have to rent a bike Saturday ,I was thinking Glacier cycles and have to get it back before 5pm Saturday . What do you think how does that sound ?
    Thanks for your help ,Ed

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by eddanca View Post
    Hi ,I was going to ride the Whitefish lake trail . Looks like the bike shops are closed on Sunday so I have to rent a bike Saturday ,I was thinking Glacier cycles and have to get it back before 5pm Saturday . What do you think how does that sound ?
    Thanks for your help ,Ed
    if you rent from sportsman you can return on sunday- its a 24 hr rental- should be about 40
    so you could ride saturday and get an early ride sun

    if i were you i would go to the beaver lake trail head and start there-go toward the north end via the south beaver loop you can return taking the north beaver loop or use some of the roads to make loops a nice dirt rd ride is using the at n end to murray lake then the south murray rd back to trail head- abit easier to navigate going north- these roads get less traffic/dusty

    http://whitefishlegacy.org/2013WT_TrailMap.pdf

  24. #24
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    OK ,Thanks for the Great info ,I will do just that !
    Where is the Sportsman located ?

  25. #25
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    if you are at the state park, go out to us 93 and go south (left) after 93 turns rt- south got 2 light and turn left toward the "mall" sportsmans ski haus will be on your right

    Locations Sportsman & Ski Haus

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