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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So my hub thinks everything in Montana is going to be like Helena trails or the Whitefish trail. Say it isn't so. I'm scoping out sections of the Alpine 7 complex (no way can do 27 miles) and would be interested in other suggestions for non-manicured riding, strong riders just can't do mega mileages.
 

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By “Helena trails” I assume he means the South Hills. There are some wicked backcountry rides a few miles farther out. In fact, IME most any trail that is out in the USFS away from a town is not going to be a manicured experience.

Where are you headed?

There are some fantastic (half)day backcountry rides to be had, and a number of them are on the chopping block. Ice Caves loop in the Big Snowies, or the Line Creek Plateau near Red Lodge.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
No plan at all we have 9 days to kill , our van, our mountain bikes, SUPs. We will be heading out from Bonners Ferry and maybe circle around from Fernie. West/central?

Hub just about has me convinced to spend the week in BC, lol. Can you give Trailforks links?
 

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In my experience, the trails mentioned in the OP are the exceptions, not the rule. Although more and more modern trails are shaping up to be pretty well manicured.

History Rock > South Cottonwood near Bozeman is as rooty/rocky as anything you can find in the NE part of our country.

Riding Bracket Creek (aka Grassy Mountain) as an out and back will keep you on your toes as well. I'm *almost* writing that one off as not even being fun anymore as the rocks get worse every year.

I'm sure the rest of the state has technically challenging rides too.

Look into the Reid Divide trail near Tally Lake in Whitefish. I've heard that one is awesome but haven't ridden it myself. You'll want to shuttle the ride and finish at the lake.
 

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One of my favorite rocky tech rides is muskrat Creek in the Elkhorns (not far from HLN...)

https://www.trailforks.com/trails/muskrat-creek/

Blackmore to Cottonwood (BZN/Hyalite) is much better ride than History Rock to Cottonwood although misses the tech drop in from History

I assume you're familiar with Curly Lake Highline already, but there's a few rocky sections, especially dropping in and the fact that it's moto'ed out increases the spice factor:

https://www.trailforks.com/route/curly-lake-highline/

I think you're looking north MT but I'd be remiss not to put a plug for (IMO) the best riding in the SWMT: Henry's Mtns/ Lionhead (which is threatened by W designation, ride it while you can ..)

Sheep is my favorite 'regular' ride down there (and has a small portion of tech) but it's all good riding in those parts -- as in you could ride a different trail every day for weeks...

https://www.trailforks.com/trails/sheep-creek-64425/

Lastly in the same neighborhood are Wolverine Basin and further south Keg Springs CDT to Taylor Creek in the Centennials, both with some technical challenges but mostly just high alpine goodness...

https://www.trailforks.com/trails/keg-springs-road/

https://www.trailforks.com/trails/gazelle-creek-trail/

I love that area so much I bought a fixer upper in Island Park ID, so reach out if you decide to head south and I can provide more specifics...

I seem to recall your sweetie is a boater, one plus of riding down here is all the lakes/rivers...

You can camp here Cliff Lake, which is as close to the Carribean as you can get in MT and ride everything:

Body of water Nature Natural landscape Natural environment Mountainous landforms
 

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I'll put my vote in for the Lionhead region that Montana Rider referenced above as well. Most, if not all the trails there are on Traiforks I believe. Rode Mile Creek up to the CDT junction, then on up to Targhee Pass 2 weeks ago.The views are well worth the climbing. Once at the pass, climbing up to Targhee Peak is well worth it as well. From that point your options are plentiful. I turned around at that point, and the 7 mile downhill run was the funnest ride I've ever done.
 

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Someone actually told me that whitefish trail and Helena were the best in Montana
I would concur that HLN has the best "in town" riding, longest season, and most affordable housing (outside Butte) of all the "big" cities in MT...

But my jam is high alpine rides (uphill walks given my fitness this year) above treeline with beautiful lakes and nominal human interaction
 

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I *finally* got around to riding Casey Peak this summer. The trailhead is barely half an hour from downtown Helena, but it’s a world away. If you’re looking for a big mountain ride, it’s a winner. The drawback is that nearly 2,000’ of the climbing is hike-a-bike. Rowdy descending, though. Because of the HAB I’d rate it harder than Curly- at least the grade on that is all rideable. I have ridden all of Curly minus the worst moto-torn switchbacks. I was hung over enough that I didn’t care about keeping up with the group and just kept going at my own pace.

One of these summers I want to get up to the Badger-Two Medicine and ride to Half Dome Crag. The photos look amazing.
 

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How about up Peter's Ridge to Alpine Trail #7, south on #7, then down Strawberry Lake Trail? It looks like for a longer ride you could go north on Alpine #7 once at the top of Peters and then descend Hemler Creek. I'm going to try both of these in a few weeks when I'm up there. I rode up Strawberry Lake trail once about 20 years ago. We took Alpine Trail #7 north all the way to Columbia Mountain, then descended that. This was a more than all day (we finished after dark) point to point shuttle. One of the best rides I've ever done. PM kntr; he's local and should be able to clarify these rides.
 

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We're headed to Butte next week for a few days to ride for the first time. Based on Trailforks there does appear to be a lot to choose from. Some have more user info posted than others and we'll probably stick to those. We have found from experience that just because it's on Trailforks doesn't mean there is a worthy trail there (don't get me wrong, I love Trailforks).
 

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We're headed to Butte next week for a few days to ride for the first time. Based on Trailforks there does appear to be a lot to choose from. Some have more user info posted than others and we'll probably stick to those. We have found from experience that just because it's on Trailforks doesn't mean there is a worthy trail there (don't get me wrong, I love Trailforks).
Click on the "routes" tab for the riding area. If it's a notable or worthy ride, someone has probably added it as a route. This is useful in a dense network.
 

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Re: Butte, Homestake Pass N towards Virgin overlook or Homestake Pass south as out and back to Hwy 2 (or modified lollypop by hooking into Beaver Pond "downhill"

I haven't explored the CDT north of Butte (yet) but it's highlighted in the new MT singletrack and on my list...

While I'm not into catching air and whoop-de-whoos, Copper City trails have come a long way in 2 years and not far from Butte...
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
So awesome, team MTBR!! Thank you!!

Looks like Montana got shelved for now. Our friends in Livingston have had an injury and don't want visitors. We'll wait to explore when we can combine with socializing. :)
I am still laughing over the (local mtb fb group) comment that Helena and Whitefish were the best Montana had to offer. I've filed a lot of this for later. Cheers all.
 

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Re: Butte, Homestake Pass N towards Virgin overlook or Homestake Pass south as out and back to Hwy 2 (or modified lollypop by hooking into Beaver Pond "downhill"

I haven't explored the CDT north of Butte (yet) but it's highlighted in the new MT singletrack and on my list...

While I'm not into catching air and whoop-de-whoos, Copper City trails have come a long way in 2 years and not far from Butte...
Yep a lot of the CDT sections are great riding!
The Nez Perce section North of town was one of my favorites, if you like rock!
 

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We just spent 4 days riding in Butte and came away quite impressed overall. We did a loop the first day by starting at the bottom of Beaver Ponds, hwy 2 to end of rail grade, rail grade down to Graham Canyon, up Archery Range, over on Blacktail Ridge, down Beaver Pond. Not a big ride, but an interesting variety. There are other loop options in that area.

The next day we did as much of the Homestake-Pipestone as we could before some nasty weather moved in. We rode to the high point from the north/I90 end. Awesome trail. Our favorite of the trip, and some of the best trail I've ridden period. Will need to go back to do the rest of it when we aren't running from a storm.

The third day we rode Homestack-Maude S up to the high point. This was a little tougher climbing than Pipestone, but still super awesome. Super cool rock formations. Coming back down was a hoot. Would probably loop this with Maude S and the rail grade next time (though we'd miss the sweet downhill).

Yesterday we did the Nez Perce trail. Very rocky and eroding badly from moto use. If you like rocky tech climbs (which I do) it can be a fun challenge, but honestly I get a bit cranky when I see the damage that motos do to a trail. We took the right fork at the top and rode it to its highest point...~8400'. No views there unfortunately. I enjoyed coming down...it kept you on your toes. Personally this was my least favorite. Btw, Trailforks refers to this as the "Fairy Trail". All the signage there calls it the Nez Perce trail.

We found a few good places to eat/drink in Butte. I was skeptical about what it had to offer, but was pleasantly surprised.
 

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We just spent 4 days riding in Butte and came away quite impressed overall. We did a loop the first day by starting at the bottom of Beaver Ponds, hwy 2 to end of rail grade, rail grade down to Graham Canyon, up Archery Range, over on Blacktail Ridge, down Beaver Pond. Not a big ride, but an interesting variety. There are other loop options in that area.

The next day we did as much of the Homestake-Pipestone as we could before some nasty weather moved in. We rode to the high point from the north/I90 end. Awesome trail. Our favorite of the trip, and some of the best trail I've ridden period. Will need to go back to do the rest of it when we aren't running from a storm.

The third day we rode Homestack-Maude S up to the high point. This was a little tougher climbing than Pipestone, but still super awesome. Super cool rock formations. Coming back down was a hoot. Would probably loop this with Maude S and the rail grade next time (though we'd miss the sweet downhill).

Yesterday we did the Nez Perce trail. Very rocky and eroding badly from moto use. If you like rocky tech climbs (which I do) it can be a fun challenge, but honestly I get a bit cranky when I see the damage that motos do to a trail. We took the right fork at the top and rode it to its highest point...~8400'. No views there unfortunately. I enjoyed coming down...it kept you on your toes. Personally this was my least favorite. Btw, Trailforks refers to this as the "Fairy Trail". All the signage there calls it the Nez Perce trail.

We found a few good places to eat/drink in Butte. I was skeptical about what it had to offer, but was pleasantly surprised.
Thanks for chiming in with your impressions, I need to get up there and ride some of those.
 

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We found a few good places to eat/drink in Butte. I was skeptical about what it had to offer, but was pleasantly surprised.
Uptown Cafe is the BOMB for finer dining in Butte. Just as good as anywhere in Bozeman at 2/3 the price.

That's a good summary of the rides IMO. I didn't mind the moto-damage on Nez Perce as much as you did - I only noticed it in that wet upper section near the fork.

My wife and I have an ongoing debate about whether it's more fun to do CDT north from Homestake as an out and back versus descending Maud S and climbing the RR grade. Either is really fun.
 
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