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Trail Well Traveled – 8/25

Each Friday, in partnership with Montana Wilderness Association we will feature a new western Montana trail and then give you some helpful details and tips to get on your way!

This week, Craig did us all a favor and researched air quality around the state via the Montana Department of Environmental Quality’s website. And lo, he found some semi-breathable air in a few small pockets in the corners of the state!

So this week, in tribute to your lungs – and patience – we excitedly send you to the blue skies above West Yellowstone.

Targhee Creek Trail #027

Enjoy the splendor of Yellowstone without all the crowds on this rewarding hike through wildflower-filled meadows with views of cliffs hundreds of feet tall

Round Trip: 6 miles

Total Elevation Gain: 200 feet

Directions: From Missoula, head the direction of West Yellowstone by heading east on I-90 and then turning south at Three Forks onto Highway 287. When you get the the junction of Highways 287 and 87, take 87 south across the Madison River.

You’ll briefly leave Montana on this route, but after passing Henry’s Lake you’ll turn northeast on Highway 20 and head back into the state.

Two miles past this juncture, take a left onto Forest Service Road #57. You’ll see a Forest Service sign at the turn that reads “Targhee Creek Trail.” If you hit Targhee Pass, you’ve gone too far.

The trailhead is less than two miles down this road in a grassy parking lot area. Note: There are no restroom facilities or water access at the trailhead.

What to expect: Hike all 3 miles to the second creek crossing, or turn around earlier for a shorter trip. With such easy access from the highway and its proximity to Yellowstone, this trail makes a great full day hike or an afternoon leg stretch.

The trail begins just behind the trailhead sign, following the meadow above Targhee Creek through sagebrush meadows and aspen stands. The moderate grade is nearly flat, gaining little elevation.  After one mile, the sagebrush meadow transitions to lush 3-foot-tall wildflowers including bleeding heart, lupine, fireweed, and others. At this point you will also start to glimpse the impressive stone walls located further up the valley.

At 2 miles, the trail crosses Targhee Creek. A horse ford is to the left and a narrow, creatively designed footbridge is to the right. The trail continues another mile to the second creek crossing.

The second creek crossing may be a shallow ford in early summer and it’s easy to hop across by August. Here, the trail has gained less than 200 feet in elevation over 3 miles.

Turn around here or, for a longer hike, check out the Targhee Creek Loop trail.

Learn more about this trail, file your own trip report and photos, or check out some other great hikes at And don’t forget to tune in to the Trail 103.3 each Friday at 9:50 am for the next featured trail and your chance to win!

Big thanks to Rangitsch Bros RV for sponsoring the Trail Well Traveled. Proudly serving Missoula for over 56 years, whatever camper best suits your needs Rangitsch Bros has got it!

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