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March is a Great Time to Explore Montana Ski Trails

xcountry at chief joseph
A cross-country skier enjoys the sunshine on the Chief Joseph trails. (USFS Photo)
With the recent and future snow storms dropping the late season snow in the high country, followed by sunny days preceding spring, it’s one of the best times to check out those cross-country, snowshoe and snowmobile trails you’ve been promising yourself to explore.

Of course, for cross-country enthusiasts, the groomed trails at Chief Joseph Pass on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest can’t be beat. They get weekly attention with grooming machines of the Bitterroot Cross Country Ski Club and the variety of slopes is well-known. There are 27 kilometers of trails in that one place.

In the Bitterroot National Forest, volunteers have also been grooming trails just south of Lake Como, northwest of Darby. Those trails can be accessed from the 550 road. Watch out for logging traffic around the lake, with more thinning of beetle-killed trees underway.

Back on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, cross-country trails are at Wade and Cliff lakes, about 50 miles south of Ennis. There are 22 kilometers of ungroomed trails near Elkhorn Hot Springs.

Georgetown Lake has both groomed and ungroomed trails – over 100 miles of trails in the area. Get a map at the Philipsburg Ranger Station. And while you’re in P-burg, stop in at the brand new brewery. It’s cool.

For snowmobilers, grab some maps at each forest you’re visiting for the latest information. For instance, the Pioneer Mountains National Snowmobile Trail runs from Wise River to Elkhorn Hot Springs. And check out the trail in the Gravelly Range south of Ennis. There are great views for 50 miles.

And for those folks on snowshoes, the nice thing is – you don’t need a trail. With snowshoes, you can pick your drainage and go.


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