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Explore the heart of Montana's wildest country - the Bob Marshall Wilderness on horseback. Ride through the breathtaking country visiting the spectacular Chinese Wall and other fantastic scenic sites. This backcountry horse packing trip is a unique and exclusive way to visit the remote backcountry of Montana. The Chinese Wall trip takes you through amazing valleys, high mountain passes, and along the continental divide. The most spectacular of course is the 1,000-foot shear cliff 15 miles long that is the Chinese Wall. Your trip will also take you to hidden, outstanding campsites, lakes, and beautiful mountain streams and rivers.
A Lazy H Outfitters provides all accommodations once the trip begins, excluding lodging the last night of the trip. The campsites along this trip are some of the most picturesque you will find anywhere, so definitely bring your camera.
Each campsite has its own identity. From the wide-open grassy meadow at Pretty Prairie to the secluded basin of upper White River to the Gates Park camp, each has some unique opportunities for photography, hiking, and day rides.
This trip generally moves camp and rides every other day with an exception of two travel days back to back.
You begin by packing up at the Benchmark trailhead west of Augusta. This is the furthest south departure point. The ride from Benchmark to the campsite at Pretty Prairie, on the South Fork of the Sun River, is a gentle ride through scattered timber before entering the South Fork valley where it opens up into wide vistas the beautiful country around Pretty Prairie. You camp at Pretty Prairie one night before heading out the next day.
You take your time to explore Pretty Prairie, which is aptly named. This is a great outdoor are in the South Fork Sun River near the camp. Also, the valley is broad and open and beacons you for some nice hikes to ridges above camp. Or, for the most adventurous, you can take a day ride down to Sun Butte above the confluence of the North and South Forks of the Sun. Whichever you choose, there are awesome photo opportunities in all directions.
You pack up and head up the West Fork of the Sun River. This is a broad glacial valley with open country and high glacial cirques visible from the valley floor. This is a popular trail in the Bob Marshall so you will see other hikers and riders this day. You continue up the West Fork past Indian Point cabin and camp near on the West Fork this evening. This is a small camp nestled below Red Butte. There is a small range of red mountains right above you and make for a stunning sunrise the next morning if you have clear skies.
You pack up today for your most scenic day as you ride to the head of the West Fork of the Sun and drop into the basins at the head of Moose Creek and Rock Creek under the Chinese Wall. You ride most of the day along beneath the Chinese Wall in the broad glacial basins. Wildflowers and small glaciers augment this spectacular ride. You do occasionally see elk in these basins and mountain goats on the cliffs above you. At the first break in the cliffs, you come to Larch Hill Pass, where you will cross the divide and drop into White River for the evening.
The upper basin of White River is broad and full of small streams. The camp here is nestled between the imposing Chinese Wall to the east and Silvertip Mountain to the west. A prettier camp would be hard to find. You explore this area by hiking or short day rides in the basin.
You pack up and begin the climb out of White River up over Larch Hill Pass. At the top, you turn east and head down towards My Lake, a small hidden gem nestled under the divide. You continue on down to the valley floor of Rock Creek and past Rock Creek cabin. This used to be the staging area for a nearby fire lookout on Moose Ridge on the imposing cliff strewn ridge above you to the south.
The trail continues along a broad valley floor before we slowly turn north towards Gates Park where you arrive in the camp that afternoon. This is a semi-permanent summer camp the team set up and it's a welcome sight after an exhilarating day coming out of White River.
There are plenty of options to explore by foot or horseback at Gates Park. This is a large meadow near the North Fork Sun River with miles of hiking and riding trails. Your guide often takes a day ride out to Biggs Creek Meadows for impressive views of the Chinese Wall in the distance and some perspective on this trip route so far. Your camera will get a real workout on this trip they assure you!
Pack up from Gates Park camp and head on up Headquarters Creek. This is a gradual climb through scattered timber as you ascend to the basin below Headquarters Pass. After lunch, you make the final approach to the pass with stunning views of the Sun River valley to the west and the Rocky Mountain Front to the east. This descent down from the pass goes quickly and you reach the end of this trip at the South Fork Teton trailhead.
Ian is currently a student at the University of Delaware. He has spent many summers in the West. His aunt and uncle own a dude ranch in Wyoming, where Ian spent summers wrangling horses and dudes. He has been with A Lazy H Outfitters for several seasons learning the trails, special campsites, and the intricacies of packing mules. He is a well-polished horseman and guide, with outstanding wilderness savvy.
Traveling to the Chinese Wall is a keystone trip, covering over 70 miles of fantastic scenery and adventure. The Chinese Wall is a massive limestone cliff forming the Continental Divide for over 30 miles. The Wall has several sections, notable the area north of Red Shale Creek to the Open Fork, and the area south of Rock Creek to White River pass.
The route of this trip takes you along the southern part from the White River Pass area to Larch Hill Pass. The upper basins below the wall are spectacular with immense vistas, springs, wildflowers, and the occasional mountain goat or elk. If the pass is not too snowed in, you will drop over Larch Hill pass and down into the head of the White River.
The White River starts in a large glacial basin and drains the west side of the wall. You begin and end this trip at different trailheads, and this is probably the most popular trip for unmatched scenery and riding opportunities.
Of particular interest, due to the absolute remote nature of the Bob Marshall, there is zero light pollution and near-perfectly clear skies. The deep evening star gazing is intensely beautiful, where you can see brilliantly evening constellations, the Milky Way galaxy, and numerous shooting stars. This is a unique and rare opportunity to see the nighttime sky in a way you've not seen it before. The days are long out there, so plan on staying up late as sunset is about 10 p.m.
A Lazy H Outfitters has an excellent menu of western fare. They pack quite a bit of frozen fresh meat, and bring along fresh vegetables as well. The meals include all manner of beef, chicken, pork, and fish. The breakfasts are hardy and include things like bacon, sausages, eggs, fresh fruits, and the ever-popular pancakes and french toast. Lunches are generally on the trail or in the field, so they are light and portable but fun and varied. Things like sandwiches, cheeses and crackers, wraps, fruits, and other goodies keep you going during the day.
A Lazy H Outfitters can also accommodate gluten-free and vegetarian diets. Please let them know in advance so they can pack the food accordingly. It's a long way to the grocery store from where you will be!
On the layover days, there are great hiking options, day rides, and other exploration options available.
Great Falls International Airport
Transfer available for additional US$150 per person
The nearest airport is Great Falls International Airport (GTF). The airport is serviced by Delta, Horizon, United, Allegant, and Alaska airlines. Most of them connect through Seattle, Denver, Minneapolis, Salt Lake, or Chicago. Transfer from this airport is available at 150 USD. Due to the fairly limited flight schedules, you are required to arrive the afternoon before your trip starts. Your departure flight should be the day after your trip ends. Expect early morning flights out of Great Falls.
There are other airport options, but they are farther away and you may need to get a rental car depending on your traveling situation. The same airlines also service Missoula International Airport (MSO), which is 2.5 hours' drive from Choteau, Helena Regional Airport (HLN), which is 1.5 hours' drive from Choteau and Billings Airport (BLN), which is 4 hours' drive from Choteau.
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