S. Fk. Deep Creek
Pine Creek H,C
Passage Creek Falls
Big Timber Area
Creek Falls H,C,V
Boulder Meadows H,C
Twin Lakes H,C
Lava Lake H
Little Belt Mountains
MT Railroading V
Gap Wind Farm V
Beartooth Highway V
Rocks Rec Area V,C
Lake State Park V,C
Passage Creek Falls
Passage Creek Falls is a popular
day hikers in the Bozeman/Livingston area. The hike to Passage creek
Falls is 4 miles round-trip on an easy trail. Located in the Mill Creek
drainage south of Livingston, Passage Creek is a great place to take a
hike. It's a major trail that begins as a combined Passage Creek
Wallace Creek trail. The Passage Creek trail peels off well before the
falls while the Wallace Creek trail continues on for many miles as it
connects to the trail system in the vast Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness
north of Yellowstone Park.
The Passage Creek Falls
very easy to
find. Drive south from Livingston
US 89 through the Paradise Valley for 26 miles until you reach
the well signed major intersection
with the Mill Creek Road. Turn left (east) and you will very quickly
cross the Yellowstone River and reach an intersection with Hwy 540, the
East River Road. Go straight ahead on the Mill Creek Road which takes
you through ranch land as you climb toward the approaching mountains.
After 5 - 6 miles the road will change to gravel as you reach the
Gallatin National Forest boundary. From here on the road is an
gravel road that is suitable for most vehicles in normal weather
The Passage Creek/Wallace Divide trail begins with
bridge across Mill Creek. The water you see is Passage Creek but it is
actually entering Mill Creek immediately below the bridge. From here,
the trail is easy hiking as it follows the creek upstream..
Continue on the Mill Creek
road 486) and in about 6 miles you will reach the Snowbank Campground,
a US Forest Service facility. It at this point that the road is
closed to vehicle traffic during the winter months. Mill Creek is a
popular destination for cross country skiing, dog sleds and snowmobiles
and vehicles are restricted to the roads below the campground. Those
interested in skiing the Passage Creek trail will park here and
continue by skiing on the nearly flat road.
The Passage Creek
trailhead is about 3 more miles so continue on the road. As you drive
you will notice the several private cabins as well as a church camp.
The road is right next to the creek and you will also see numerous
turnoffs and undeveloped campsites along the road. Many people are
unaware that unless specifically posted otherwise, the national forest
lands are open for camping wherever you find a nice site. If you are
interested in this type of camping be sure to check out our information
The Passage Creek Falls trailhead is the same as
Wallace Creek Trail trailhead and the sign for the access is very
will be on the right side of the road as you drive up the canyon and
the parking area is right between the road and Mill Creek. The parking
lot is large as the Wallace Creek Trail is a high use trail
for horse packing. Despite being a high use area, there is no water
or toilets so come prepared.
There is a section of private land that is totally surrounded
National Forest right near Passage Creek Falls. When you reach this
meadow the trail keeps you out of the private lands..
The trail is
very obvious as you immediately cross Mill Creek on a large bridge.
Much of the entire Mill Creek drainage burned in the 2007 Wicked Fire
and the bridge is new since the fire. The trail is wide and smooth as
it was once a road bed. After a distance it becomes a standard single
track trail but it remains an easy hike. As previously stated, there is
a lot of horse traffic on the trail and it is not unusual to find signs
of their passing. Speaking of passing, if you ever encounter a horse on
the trail please step off the trail as far as you can to allow them to
After about a mile and a quarter the
Passage Creek Falls trail
splits off to the right from the Wallace Creek trail. This is a well
signed intersection and you should have no trouble finding it. Take the
right hand fork and continue on with an excellent trail, flat and wide.
You will cross the creek on another bridge and from here the trail
begins to narrow and steepen. Although it never gets too steep, the
trail climbs until you reach a large clearing with the trail leading
straight ahead. Unfortunately, this entire clearing is part of a
private in-holding in the Gallatin Forest. There are a number of cabins
in the area and the entire section is private property. Never trespass
on these properties.
Passage Creek Falls is a beautiful place to visit. The trail
takes you to a great viewpoint at creek level. It is only about a 4
mile round trip to visit the falls.
Just as you reach the private lands the
trail to the bottom of Passage Creek Falls splits off the the left. A
well established trail continues on straight ahead at this junction.The
area is usually shaded and cool which is very welcome on a hot summer
day. Although you reach the creek there is no place to safely swim,
wade or cool off in the water so stay well away from the stream
banks. The Forest
Service has done some stabilization work on the areas where the trail
ends and there are a couple of great place to sit back and enjoy the
falls. When you are ready just retrace the trail back to your car.
Passage Creek Falls is a popular trail
so don't expect to be on it alone; especially, if you are out on the
weekend. There is a reason it's popular. It's an easy hike with easy
access that gets you to a great destination. It's only a 4 mile
round trip so its within the hiking abilities of most people and the
trail itself is mostly broad and smooth. This is a great hike for those
with kids or those who don't have much time.
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