Spring in Montana is always a bit of an unknown in terms of the weather. Snow, rain, hail, sunshine, and anything in between is usually in the forecast. Sometimes simultaneously. But if there’s one thing you can count on, it’s that it will snow on the first day of high school track season.
Anyway, the point is that springtime adventure plans are always weather-dependent. Sometimes, snow lingers in the mountains well into May and June. And so it was nearing the end of June when we were finally able to head out for our first mountain trip of 2012.
Looking to venture somewhere we’d never been before, my mom and I headed to Lost Creek State Park near Anaconda, Montana. The park is characterized by towering limestone cliffs that rise above the babbling waters of Lost Creek. One road leads into the park, paralleling the creek for a couple miles before coming to an end at the campground. We didn’t stay overnight, but it seemed to be a decent campground.
From the campground there is a short trail to the 50 foot (15 m) Lost Creek Falls. A second longer trail departs from the same area and travels along the edge of Lost Creek for many miles. We hiked maybe 2 miles (3.2 km) before turning around and retracing our steps back to the car.
Lost Creek State Park is small, and the few hours we spent there was adequate to explore it pretty thoroughly. The one thing we didn’t see was any type of wildlife, but the park is home to bighorn sheep and mountain goats, among other species.
Since we had some time still, we decided to take the scenic route home, heading down Montana Highway 569, otherwise known as the Mount Haggin Scenic Drive.
It was a much longer drive but the scenery made it well worth the detour. Then again, it’s pretty hard to go wrong in southwest Montana!
The Important Stuff:
- Getting there: located at the end of Lost Creek Road, about 20 minutes north of Anaconda, MT
- Fees & passes: free for MT residents, $6 per car for nonresidents
- Camping: Lost Creek Campground; 25 sites, $18-$34 per night
- Hiking: there is a 0.5 mile (0.8 km) easy hike to Lost Creek Falls, as well as a much longer Forest Service trail that parallels the creek and heads back into the mountains
- Other: the elevation here is over 6,000 feet (1800 m); summers at this altitude are hot and dry so don’t forget sunscreen and water!