Supporting stewardship of the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness 
and fostering appreciation of wild lands.

The Upper Stillwater River Trail Project

Upper Stillwater River Trail Improvement Project—July 16th-21st (Tuesday-Sunday)

Heavy, satisfying work… The Stillwater Trail connects Cooke City to the Stillwater Mine and follows its namesake river from its headwaters north of Daisy Pass.  Horse packers and hikers alike use this trail, and it’s a key access to the Lake Plateau.  The ABWF took a small crew 12 miles into the heart of the A-B Wilderness to help the Forest Service clear out more than 100 water bars, create new drains, remove downed timber, and fill in more than a mile of deeply rutted trail that was a leg-breaker for horses and humans.  Most difficult was the ‘check and fill’ work—in-setting logs across the trail, creating a set of tiers in the trail and then filling in the trenches behind each tier with rock and soil until the trail is level.  In places the trail was entrenched a meter deep, so an immense amount of rock and tons of earth was moved by hand to fill in the holes.  We also created numerous drains so that water does not simply run down the trail again and create new trenches.  Our crew had a great time camping in the wide meadows near the worksite and cooling off in the Stillwater.

Thanks to Karen Holcomb and Blaine Hartman, and Marcus Perry—Wilderness Interns hired through the Student Conservation Association, who helped on this project.  Thanks also to Linus Metzler, a student from Switzerland, Charles Ward, David Kallenbach, and Shella & Matthew Soby, who joined the Beartooth’s trail rangers—Amanda and Hannah Marchant, Shannon McGann, and Allie Wood, to complete this project.


To the northwest of Cooke City, MT and Daisy Pass are the headwaters of the Stillwater River and the start of the classic 30-mile Stillwater Trail that ends near the Stillwater Mine outside Nye, Montana.  The ABWF is looking for 10 trail volunteers to work on the improvement of this trail just to the north of the wilderness boundary and Abundance Lake.  Water has eroded the trail badly and the crew will need to add water bars, build up and fill in the trail, and widen it in places.  We’ll be working side by side with a Forest Service crew from the Beartooth Ranger District.

This is a multi-day effort requiring overnight camping at a base camp inside the Wilderness boundary a distance of 6 miles.  The Forest Service will shuttle volunteers down the 4WD road  into the trailhead from Daisy Pass.  We will hike in from there with light packs.  A mule Pack team will haul in all tools, equipment, and group/personal supplies into the camp location.  All food is provided; you provide your own shelter and sleeping gear/personal effects.  The work will be somewhat more strenuous in difficulty, but there will be work for all abilities.  Because of the remoteness of this location, ideally we’re looking for volunteers who can commit to the 6-day stint, but if you can only volunteer for part of this trail camp, we can work out the details. Call David at 406-425-1944 or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

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