Located in the Pioneer mountains, Birch Creek Center was originally constructed as a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Camp in the 1930s. It is presently leased by Western Montana College of the University of Montana and includes a number of short hiking trails. They can be walked individually or as a unit by using marked cutoffs.The Discovery Trail is the shortest at 1.4km/.9 miles. It begins at the southeast corner of the BCC campus and is universally accessible. Maintaining a gentle gradient throughout its length, the trail passes through a mixed age Douglas fir forest, a grove of aspen, and loops back through open sagebrush.The Forest Trail begins about 200 yards up Discovery Trail. It is 1.3 km/.8 miles long and covers terrain that is a bit more challenging. It climbs through a Douglas fir forest and open sagebrush meadows with spectacular views of the highest peaks in the East Pioneer Mountains. Along the way make sure to notice the mining adit (a surface opening to a mine) and the ‘old miner's cabin.' The trail returns to the Center through a riparian area along Thief Creek, where you can see evidence of several resident moose.The Stream Trail begins on the north side of the Center and drops down into the riparian area along Thief Creek. It ends at the Birch Creek Guard Station, a log cabin built in the late 1930s and now available for overnight rental. From here the Pond Trail begins and follows Birch Creek to a pond built by the CCCs in the 1930s. The trail continues to the Aspen Picnic Area. As you walk the trail, look for evidence, still visible, of sudden flooding caused by the failure of an upstream dam in the 1920s.The Range Trail connects the end of the Pond Trail near the Aspen Picnic Area to the end of the Forest Trail. This trail climbs up and over the base of Middle Mountain and most of the trail is through open grassland and sagebrush. The wildflowers are profuse from the time the snow melts until it returns again in the fall.During the winter cross country skiing can be enjoyed in the Birch Creek Area. The trail is actually an old access road to Boot and Pear Lakes. Length: 5.0 km of more difficult trail; no grooming.
Trail Begins: Across Birch Creek Bridge on the Birch Creek Road about 1 mile west of the junction with the Willow Creek Road. Trail map available.