Nothing but Footprints in the Scapegoat Wilderness

March is a month for staring out the window and dreaming about when it will be warm enough that you can leave everything behind and just march into the wilderness for a while. At least it is for me. If that’s your view of March too, then you should probably start planning your trip to Southwest Montana’s Scapegoat Wilderness right now.

The Scapegoat forms the southern quarter or so of the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex and straddles the continental divide. It is 78,000 acres of pristine wilderness, filled with dramatic rivers, lakes, forests, and mountainscapes teaming with wildlife–including the only population of grizzlies in the lower 48 outside of a national park. As you might imagine, its the sort of excursion that needs some planning to visit properly. After all, you can’t drive into it, you have to bear-proof anything that might attract a curious grizzly, and you have to haul out all of your trash. But, with a little of organizing, you’re in for an experience that you aren’t going to forget.

For the full experience you’ll want to backpack or horse/mule pack into the wilderness, but there’s also the possibility of day hiking and fishing. The best access point to the wilderness are:

  • Beaver Creek Road off Highway 200, one mile west of Lincoln. Follow 10 miles to Arrastra Creek Trailhead.
  • Copper Creek Road off Highway 200, six miles east of Lincoln. Follow seven miles to road 1882 then one mile to Indian Meadows Trailhead.
  • Blackfoot/North Fork Blackfoot Road off Hwy 200, by Ovando.
  • Blackfoot/Monture Creek Road off State Road 200, by Ovando, from USFS Monture Creek Guard Station.
  • Swan Valley Trail Head Parking by Holland Lake Lodge of US Highway 287
  • Rocky Mountain Front entry off MT Highway 83 just past Benchmark, not far from Augusta.

You’ll also want to be sure that you are leave-no-trace ready, and that you are aware of the the regulations about visiting wilderness areas, these remarkable areas are kept pristine by people respecting the wilderness. And of course, you’ll want to contact the ranger districts where you’ll be, because no body knows the Scapegoat like they do.

Lincoln Ranger District
1569 HIGHWAY 200
Remarks: Office hours: M-F 8:00 am – 4:30 pm
Phone: 406-362-7000
Rocky Mountain Ranger District
PO BOX 340
Remarks: Office hours: M-F 8:00 am – 4:30 pm
Phone: 406-466-5341
Seeley Lake Ranger District
3583 HWY 83
Remarks: Office hours: M-F 8:00 am – 4:30 pm
Phone: 406-677-2233