A Book by Wendy Pierce
This handy paperback is available for $18.95 from bookstores or pruettpublishing.com.
The book features 55 trails, “dog notes,” maps and photos for each trail, leash requirements, and availability of water for drinking and swimming. It also features an extensive appendix that includes pet-friendly lodging for each region. These gals have thought of everything you’d want to know to explore new territory with your dogs. We’ve included samples of two top-rated hikes.
Distance: 8 miles round trip
Time: 5-6 hours
- - One of the best things about writing a hiking book is getting to explore new and amazing areas of the state. Blue Lake, in the Crazy Mountains, is one of the hidden jewels in Montana and this hike is incredible. It was hard to believe it required writing a book to get to it and we will definitely return! This hike has it all for both people and dogs. The trail follows a good size stream that is crossed by several bridges with sun-soaked and flat rocks perfect to sit on, relax, and throw sticks in the water for your dog. Eventually the trail becomes steeper with a series of switchbacks and heads through rock outcroppings up to Blue Lake, and a little farther along, Granite Lake. For those of you who want to do a little fishing, the lake has small rainbow trout and we saw quite a bit of activity in the lake. This is an access point to Crazy Peak and has several backcountry campsites surrounding it. For the day hiker it is great place to rest, have lunch (don’t forget to bring something for your dog), and cool off after a fair workout.
Take route 90 to Big Timber. From Big Timber follow highway 191 North for 11.2 and turn left (west) on the Big Timber Canyon Road. Follow the road for 1.9 miles and turn right towards Half Moon Campground. You will need to travel through some gated private property so make sure to close the gates on your way. The trailhead is on the right just before you enter the campground.
Heading from the parking lot, the hike climbs steadily for about three miles. Much of the trail (an old jeep road from mining operations) is wide enough to walk side by and side, so it makes for a nice social outing. The trail follows a gorgeous stream and has several picturesque bridges that you need to cross as you go along. If you are feeling lazy and just want to get out for short hike or stroll any of these bridges make a fine stopping point to toss a ball, sit in the sun, and enjoy the scenery. There is a short spur trail to about a quarter of a mile up the trail to Big Timber Falls, which is definitely worth a detour. After about three miles the trail forks to the left, has an unimproved stream crossing (no problem in the fall, but could be tricky in the spring) and climbs steeply through switchbacks to Blue or Granite Lake. If you are enjoying the stream and a more gradual climb, you can continue straight along the original trail up to Twin Lakes. This is a bit longer (10 miles round trip), but brings you to a wide-open meadow with some marvelous views.
Distance: 6 miles round trip
Time: 3 hours
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
- - If you and Fido are looking for a uniquely scenic hike near the Butte area, Humbug Spires is a great choice. It follows a tributary of the Big Hole River, Moose Creek, to unusual granite outcroppings in the Boulder Mountains. The spires, some of which tower a few hundred feet, are a large attraction for rock climbers. The hike provides a variety of flora including the willowy creek side and sparsely populated pine forests peppered with a few grassy meadows. The creek and its forks provide plenty of water for the pups along the way.
From Butte, drive south on I-15 25 miles to exit 99, Moose Creek Road. Go south on Moose Creek Road three miles on the gravel road to the trailhead parking lot.
The trail starts just below the trail sign below the parking area. The path follows Moose Creek, with views of its willows and shrubs that make an ideal habitat for its namesake moose. Continue to stroll through a few meadows and woods along the creek. There are plenty of opportunities for your dogs to find new sticks to chew and chomp along the way. After about a mile and a half, the trail leaves the path of the creek and climbs a bit. You will come across the remains of a log miner’s cabin. Continue to hike the last, but steeper, mile and a half to reach “The Wedge,” which is one of the more pronounced outcroppings.
Milo’s notes: There was so much to do on this trail, I would have been happy at any of the numerous swimming holes along the way.