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Cottonwood Creek

Hike Name: Cottonwood Creek
Location: central MT
Length: 12
Submitted by: Todd Johnson
Date Submitted: 0/0/00

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The hike follows Cottonwood Creek from the trailhead up to its origin, Cottonwood Lake, which is in a spectacular glacial tarn in the Crazy Mountains.
Views of the peaks are spectacular right from the beginning of the hike. For the first two and a half miles, the trail is flat and easy. Moose browse along the creek. The last four miles include one very steep pitch, and sometimes the trail climbs high above the creek bed.

Just below Cottonwood lake is an unnamed body of water which is so clear, the foot-long trout have no-where to hide. Fish can be caught here and in Cottonwood Lake.

Cottonwood Lake sits 1500 directly below neighboring peaks. It fills more than half of the tarn-bottom, but there is plenty of room to camp on fine flat ground. There is not too much fire wood, so bring a stove. It was awfully windy the one night I slept up there. Also, expect company, including horses and dogs.

Directions to Hike
From Bozeman/Billings/YNP to Cottonwood Road: Drive to the I-90/US-89 junction east of Livingston. Get on US-89 heading north towards White Sulphur Springs. Continue about 20 miles north to Clyde Park. 1/2 mile north of Clyde Park, turn right (east) on Cottonwood Road.

From Helena/Great Falls to Cottonwood Road: From I-15/US-12 junction in Helena, take US-12 east to Townsend. Following signs to White Sulphur Springs, turn left (east) onto US-212 in the middle of Townsend. At the US-212/US-89 junction about 35 miles east of Townsend, turn right (south) (do not turn left towards White Sulphur Springs). Continue 30 miles or so, until 5 miles past Wilsal and 1/2 mile north of Clyde Park.
US-89/Cottonwood Road to trailhead:
Follow Cottonwood Road until it splits into Cottonwood Creek Road on the right and Cottonwood Bench Road on the left. Go left on Cottonwood Bench Road (following signs to the IBEX Mountain Ranger Station if I got this backwards). About 3 miles from the trail-head, the road forks again. Take the right fork to the trail head (The left fork goes to the ranger station).

Contact Information
Call or Write: Gallatin National Forest Headquarters
Federal Building
P.O. Box 130
Bozeman, MT 59771
(406) 587 - 6701

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