Camping, Hiking and Traveling in Montana

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Hike Index
H=Hike   C=Camp   V=Visit     S=Ski

Livingston Area
  Elephanthead Mtn. H
 Paradise Valley
  S. Fk. Deep Creek H
  Pine Creek H,C
  George Lake H
  Passage Creek Falls H
  Crow Mountain H

Big Timber Area
  Boulder River H,C,V
  Natural Bridge Falls H,C,V
  Big Timber Creek Falls  H,C,V
  West Boulder Meadows H,C
  Twin Lakes  H,C

Bozeman Area
  Chestnut Mountain H
  Goose Creek H,S
  Mystic Lake H
  Lava Lake H

Central Montana
  Little Belt Mountains H,C,V,S
  Castle Mountains H,C
  Central MT Railroading V
  Cooney Reservoir C,V
  Crystal Lake H,C,V
  Judith Mountains V
  Judith Gap Wind Farm V
  Moccasin Mountains V

Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness
  Anvil Lake H,C

Western Montana
  Painted Rocks Rec Area V,C
  Salmon Lake State Park V,C
  Warm Spring Ponds  V


West Boulder River Near Big Timber, MT


     Twin Lakes are probably the most popular hiking destination in Montana's Crazy Mountains. The Crazy Mountains are an  island mountain range north of Interstate 90 in the Livingston/Big Timber area. The trailhead for hiking to Twin Lakes is located  in Big Timber Canyon near the popular Halfmoon Campground. This is a very popular access area which provides access to the Big Timber Creek Falls, The popular Crazy Mountain Crossing backpacking trail and the trail to Blue Lake. If you visit this area expect to find other hikers and campers enjoying this spectacular area.

     Halfmoon Campground and the trail head to Twin Lakes is easily accessed by traveling to the end of the Big Timber Creek road. Travel north out of Big Timber, MT
Twin Lake Trail
     The big Timber Creek Canyon trail is wide and generally not very steep. Much of the trail is part of an old road which offers side-by-side hiking in places.
on US 191 for about 11 miles to a well marked turn onto the Big Timber Canyon Road that runs west toward the Crazy Mountains.  Follow this  gravel road for about 2 miles to a junction where you bear to the right, again toward the mountains. Follow the road until it ends at the Halfmoon Campground, Halfmoon Picnic Area and the Big Timber Canyon trailhead. The trailhead parking is located on the right as you arrive with the road continuing on to the left where it enters the campground and picnic area.

      Beginning from the trailhead the trail climbs steadily but not steeply to Twin Lakes. The trail follows an old road bed so it is wide and fairly level. However, it is a very rocky trail so hiking is not always easy. About 1/4 mile from the trailhead there is an unmarked side trail to the left that takes you to Big Timber Creek Falls. This short side trip is highly recommended as the Falls are an impressive sight.

     Continuing on, the trail stays wide and easy to follow. There are two crossings where the trail crosses Big Timber Creek. However, each crossing has a large sturdy bridge to cross on. The creek itself is a popular
Big Timber Creek      Big Timber Creek is a beautiful mountain stream. This photo was taken from one of the sturdy bridges that span the creek at trail crossings.
whitewater destination for extreme kayakers and at times you might find them enjoying the rushing waters of Big Timber Creek. If you would like to learn more about the whitewater opportunities be sure to read our page about Big Timber Creek Falls.

     As you climb the trail you are treated to great views of the approaching mountains and soon you reach a junction where a well signed and maintained trail leads to the left (south) toward Blue Lake. This trail junction is about 2 1/2 or 3 miles from the trailhead and Twin Lakes lie about another mile and a half ahead. The first of the Twin Lakes is called Lower Twin Lake or East Twin Lake. It sits in a spectacular basin surrounded by hight mountains peaks. These mountains hold snow late in the year and the steep terrain above the Lake is often visited by backcountry skiers in the spring.
Ski Tracks      Skiing the slopes above Lower Twin Lake is a popular spring/summer activity. These tracks were laid down on the 4th of July in 2010.
     
     Skiing these peaks is only for experts who have the skill, equipment and experience to undertake such an effort. Although it is a 4 1/2 mile hike to get to the bottom of these mountains, many skiers will hike in, climb to the top , ski down and hike out all in a day. There are a few accounts on the web of skiing in the Twin Lakes area. The best account I know of  is this one that contains still photos and a video along with a written description of the trip. Backcountry skiing near Twin Lakes

Lower Twin Lake Crazy Mountains      Looking west from the shore of Lower Twin Lake yo see the spectacular peaks of the Crazy Mountains. The snow fields you see are popular spring and summer backcountry ski destinations.
     Lower Twin Lake is bordered on the north by flat lands that provide plenty of camping opportunities. However, as already noted, the snow stays late in this area and it is not unusual to find the ground snow covered or very wet with melting snow. Reports are that the mosquitoes can be very bad at Twin Lakes so be sure you are prepared, especially if you are camping. NOTE: The USFS has instituted a permanent fire ban in the area surrounding Twin Lakes. Do not plan on building a fire of any sort.

      Continuing on the trail past Lower Twin Lake, a short hike brings you to Upper Twin Lake which is bordered on the south by a sheer mountain rising to more than 10,000 ft. The trail skirts the lake on the north and continues on toward the interior of the Crazy Mountains. Unless you are heading further into the Crazy Mountains or conducting a full crossing this is a good place to turn around after taking photos and memories of the Twin Lakes.
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    One thing to be aware of if you hike in the Crazy Mountains and particularly in the Big Timber Creek drainage is that much of the land, including many steep mountainous areas, is privately owned. Be sure to know where you are and stay on the marked trails which are all in places where there is either public land or an easement. Crazy Peak, the highest point in the Crazies, is actually privately owned as are a number of the lakes you will find on your maps. In some cases you can secure permission to access these lands. Contact the US Forest Service ranger station at (406) 932-5155 for more information about specific areas.

      Twin Lakes are great for a day hike or overnight into the beautifully Crazy Mountains. They are easily accessible and are popular with all hikers. The lakes hold trout for the angler and the scenery is second to none. Hiking to Twin Lakes is highly recommended.  
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