It was a cold blustery day in Ovando, Mont. The digital thermometer in the truck read nine below as we turned left off highway 200 at Ovando and headed up forest service road 89. As we drove towards Monture Creek Trail we passed small ranches and beautiful homes. We came to a nicely maintained snowmobile parking lot right by the Monture Creek Campground.
Up from the parking lot (about a half mile) is a forest service cabin that is available for rent. At the cabin there is a small trail approximately one and a half miles long that makes a nice loop through the area and offers access to other trails. It is well marked and has an abundance of wildlife. The country offers deep canyons, big old growth trees, open areas, flowing creeks, whitetail deer, various birds, squirrels, and you can even here the howl of coyotes.
Monture Creek, (named after George Montour who was killed at the mouth of the North Fork of the Blackfoot River) is approximately 60 miles east of Missoula. The charming little town of Ovando sits on the corner of highway 200 and forest service road 89. It offers various services including a diner, service station, convenience store, a bed and breakfast, and a bar. This area is commonly used by people riding the snowmobile trail over to Seeley Lake.
Once we parked we sat in the truck for a few minutes discussing the temperature and how clean and crisp the air was. The thermometer hit six below and I said “it is warming up, let’s hit it.” So, we bundled up our one year-old, and threw our packs on. As a mode of travel for our son on these adventures I attached his stroller to an ice fishing sled. The sled is a utility sled commonly used by ice fisherman: High sides and a little heavier plastic then a normal sled. I mounted the stroller so that I had plenty of room for walking in snowshoes as I pushed it along the trail. We headed across the road and up through the campground.
The campground, covered in a blanket of snow, offered newer restrooms that were easily accessible and very clean. We ventured on through the snow where we found the trail head. It could clearly be identified even with a few feet of snow on it and it was more than wide enough for our sled. The trail glistened in the sun, which was now peaking over the mountain top. The white snow ahead of us had only the tracks of the local wildlife.
The beginning of the trail is old two track road that eventually necks down to a single track. As we headed out of the campground we could hear the occasional snowmobile leaving the parking lot. Continuing up the canyon all the noise disappeared and we found ourselves surround by nothing but nature.
Once we had gone about a half mile we met up with the trail coming out of the forest service cabin. We followed the ribbon marked path for only a short distance and then the two routes parted and we continued up Monture Creek. Once again we found ourselves on snow no one else had explored. It was amazingly peaceful and quiet.
We eventually came to a log bridge that crossed Falls Creek. Falls Creek flows out of the Bob Marshall Wilderness and is named for a large waterfall that is in the area. We had lunch at a nice flat spot just beyond the bridge. We could hear the water cascading over the falls just up the trail; it was a nice relaxing sound as we sat and reflected on the country we had traveled through.
At the bridge the trail again splits and provides two routes very different from one another. To the left a route which continues to follow Monture Creek. It is an easy gradual climb for as far as the trail can be seen, the terrain is consistent with that which we have already traveled on. To the right the trail follows Falls Creek and is fairly steep and has several switch backs in it. Both options are very easy to see and provide plenty of space to safely trek.
We headed up Falls Creek Trail only venturing approximately half way up. At this point we decided to head back as the time we had that day was running out. We set out that Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. to a point on one of my many maps not sure what we would find when we reached Monture Creek. We were pleasantly surprised by the pristine beauty and the untouched trails. As we returned to the Ovando intersection at 3 p.m. we realized what a fantastic trip it was.
To find this great area get yourself a map of the Bob Marshall, Great Bear, and Scape Goat complex and look for Township 16 North, and Range 12 West, Sec. 29. Because this is such a wonderful access spot for the Bob Marshall Wilderness we recommend going during the week to avoid the snowmobile traffic. Take the whole family and have a great wilderness experience.
For more information, visit http://bit.ly/gbrADh.