When snow blankets the trails in Montana’s high country, head to the Highwood Mountains for this lower-elevation trek that traces several creeks and winds beneath Windy Mountain. The hike starts at Thain Creek Campground and travels north for 1,000 feet to the first trail junction. Turn right, heading east, for a 2.3-mile climb along Briggs Creek. During this stretch, you’ll be treated to intermittent views of Highwood Baldy, the tallest peak in the Highwood Mountains. After cresting a small saddle at mile 2.5, turn left onto Trail 454 for a rolling traverse to Windy Mountain Pass. If you have time to spare, take the scenic detour at the top of the pass to the 5,998-foot summit of Windy Mountain (you won’t regret the view). From here, it’s a 2.7-mile descent along Thain Creek to the trailhead.
-Mapped by Stacey Thurlow and Mark Taylor
TO TRAILHEAD: US 87 S to MT 228/Highwood Rd. In 13.7 miles, turn left to stay on Highwood Rd./MT 228. In 6.2 miles, turn right onto Upper Highwood Creek Rd. (follow signs for Thain Creek Campground). In 6.4 miles, turn left to stay on Upper Highwood Creek Rd. In 7.1 miles, turn left onto Thain Creek Rd. Follow 1.4 miles to trailhead parking on left.