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
Fork Deep Creek in Paradise Valley
The South Fork Deep Creek trail is a wonderful
hiking trail located just a few minutes south of Livingston, Montana.
Accessing the north end of the Absaroka Mountains, this lightly-used
trail offers great hiking over a variety of terrain. Most people enjoy
the trail as a day hike but it ties into an extensive trail network
that offers backpackers some great hiking opportunities.
To reach the trailhead travel south from
Livingston, MT on Hwy 89.
About 5 miles south of town a branch road to the left, MT 540 or East
River Road, crosses
the Yellowstone River and parallels the river on the east side. Follow
this road for about 7 miles. There are several access roads that turn
left and lead toward the mountains along MT 540. The first major road
come to accesses Suce Creek. A few miles later the road dips down to
cross Deep Creek and another road to the left follows the creek.
Continue on and within a half mile you will see the Forest Service sign
that indicates South Fork of Deep Creek. Turn left on a gravel road
that runs straight as an arrow up the mountain for less than a mile and
ends in the parking lot for the trail. There are no facilities at this
trailhead so don't expect anything.
The first section of the trail climbs up the bare ridge that
faces Paradise Valley. The view from the ridge line is great.
The trail goes
past the sign posts and up
the big ridge that stares you in the face. This is an open exposure and
it takes a while to switchback to the ridge line where the trail
into dense forest and drops down to the creek. South Fork Deep Creek is
a beautiful stream that comes out of the Absaroka Mountains.
Unfortunately, the trail is close to the creek for only a short
distance and you soon reach the creek crossing and begin to switch back
up the opposite hillside leaving the creek behind. This is a stretch of
beautiful trail that works its way through woods and clearings climbing
upward and soon entering the Absaroka/Beartooth Wilderness.
This is a typical Absaroka/Beartooth trail. The
itself is in good shape and is well maintained. Wildflowers abound and,
depending on the year, berries are available for pickers. About 4 miles
in you reach the bottom of the steep switchback section of the trail.
From here the trail begins a series of almost continuous switchbacks
climbing and climbing. The view behind you into Paradise Valley can be
spectacular on this steep but beautiful climb.
As the trail nears the top of the divide bare rock mountains
and distant vistas make a visual delight.
Your reward for
climbing the 1,400 ft
vertical switchback section comes when you reach the top
of the divide
and stand and look to the east into the Davis Creek drainage and back
to the west towards Paradise Valley. If you have arranged a shuttle you
can continue hiking from here down the Davis Creek Trail connecting
into the trail system that will lead you to the trailhead near the 63
Ranch. This is the same trail you follow for the Elephant Head
hike. However, most hikers
consider the Davis Creek divide to be their
destination on a South Fork hike and turn around here and retrace their
steps back to their car.
The South Fork Deep
Creek Trail is a hike that can be any length that suits you and you
will see interesting terrain along the way. If you hike this trail too
early in the year you may find large snowbanks persisting as you
approach the top of the divide. However, they usually are not a barrier
to achieving the divide. South Fork of Deep Creek Trail is not one of
the most popular trails in this area but it is common to see other
hikers on the trail. I highly recommend this hike for those looking for
a good place to get into the woods near Livingston, MT.
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