George Lake Revisited

I first hiked to George Lake in Paradise Valley south of Livingston in 2008. At that time very few people ever went there, mostly because of the condition of the trail. The last mile or so was virtually nonexistent and most hikers who tried to reach the lake failed. Some even wondered if the lake actually existed. Well, I made it to the lake but it was not an enjoyable hike. In fact, I swore that this was one trail I would never hike again. You can read that story in A Hike To George Lake.

In recent years the Custer Gallatin National Forest has done a lot of maintenance on the lower end of the trail and I recently broke my vow to never return. This time it was a great hike! There is an excellent trail for the first 3 1/2 miles before it climbs steeply down to Cascade Creek. From there it is a mile and 1,100 ft on a decent trail to the lake. The hike is about 10 1/2 miles round trip and is a great option for those who are looking for a lesser known trail. Learn more about the George Lake Trail in Paradise Valley.

Hiker climbing the George Lake trail
A hiker climbs the George Lake trail. This is a typical section of the trail before reaching Cascade Creek. We all owe a big debt to the local sportsmen who built most of the trail.

So, it took me a dozen years to get back to a place I said I would never go again. I’m glad I put my old feelings aside and made the hike. I sure won’t wait another decade to return!


2020 Custer Gallatin National Forest Plan Released

On July 9 the US Forest Service released the final plan for the Custer Gallatin National Forest. This is very significant as the plan will guide actions and activities in the forest for many years.

The plan has been in preparation for more than 4 years and there have been multiple opportunities for public comment. The final plan seems to make no one happy so it’s probably a true comprise. There is a ton of information available from the USFS about the 2020 Custer Gallatin Forest Plan

If you have questions Forest Plan Revision core team specialists will be conducting a webinar on Thursday, July 23 at 10:30 a.m., 3:00 p.m. or 5:30 p.m. (All times MST) – log-on to: (mobile device compatible) 

Although this is the final plan there is still an opportunity to object to the plan. For the next 60 days objections can be filed at

The plan is long overdue as the lands were being managed under two different forest plans. The Custer Forest Plan which was adopted in 1986 and the Gallatin Forest Plan which was implemented in 1987( the two forests were merged in 2014). The 247 page plan is comprehensive and it is obvious how much work went into its preparation.

As might be expected, the plan provides for a host of activities that most hikers don’t participate in but the plan does call for:
7 New Wilderness Areas (126,657 acres)
13 Backcountry Areas (208,960 acres)
10 Recreation Emphasis Areas (224,610 acres)


Welcome to MontanaHikes

Welcome to the new! While the site has been around for many years, it has been badly neglected and I have not kept up with web technology. Consequently, recently I rebuilt the site and I hope it will be both useful and frequently expanded in the coming years.

Most of the information on will be found in the blog and in permanent pages that are likely to be unchanged. I am categorizing the articles in this way.

Hikes & Attractions – this is where you will find articles arranged by geographical region that can help you plan your trips in Montana. As the site develops I may adjust this but for now the regions are:
Yellowstone Area Hikes & Attractions
Central Montana Hikes & Attractions
Western Montana Hikes & Attractions

Camping Gear & Skills – articles about the gear and skills you might need or enjoy as well as how-to articles.

Nature – articles about the natural world you will find as you explore Montana. Birds, plants, geology and similar topics are covered here.

This blog will feature a variety of thoughts, news and short articles. This site is not about me and I will remain anonymous as much as popular. Unless I have problems, I’m taking comments on these posts but not my articles.

You can always Contact Me. Let me know if you have comments, criticisms, corrections or complaints.