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Backpacker Magazine – March 2011

America's Best-Kept Secrets: Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, MT

by: Michael Lanza

In The Lower 48’s third-largest wilderness, a rarely hiked park packed with grizzlies
Out Glacier National Park and its soaring rock walls above wildflower-carpeted meadows, legendary wildlife—and 2 million annual visitors

No paved roads bisect the Bob. That means big-trip scenery requires, well, a big trip. Get the best on a 50-mile loop that crosses 7,000-foot passes with 75-mile views. On the way, see the 10-mile-long band of 500-foot cliffs called the North Wall, the pinnacled Sawtooth Range, and the summering grounds for the 3,000-strong Sun River elk herd. From Headquarters Creek Pass trailhead, follow Trail 165 west to sprawling Gates Park, then take the CDT along the North Wall. At the North Fork Sun River, start a three trail link up (Trails 110 and 108 and Lonesome Ridge Trail) to a two-mile road walk on FR 109 to close. Come between thaw (early July) and hunting season (mid-October). Local knowledge Camp in one of the meadows between Sock Lake and Lake Levale below the North Wall to see mountain goats scaling the nearby cliffs.

Do it
From Choteau, go five miles north on US 89 to Canyon Rd. Turn left; go 17 miles to FR 109. Turn left; drive 10 miles.

Map Bob Marshall, Great Bear, and Scapegoat Wilderness Complex ($9,

Guidebook Hiking Montana’s Bob Marshall Wilderness, by Erik Molvar ($20,

Contact (406) 466-5341;

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