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Old 01-21-2014, 02:41 AM   #1
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Hey Montana jeep people,

Currently living in California and may be moving to Montana next year for college. Still deciding on everything and waiting to get all my applications back but figured I would ask.

I got into Montana State University in Bozeman and will likely be bringing my jeep with me. How is the jeep community around Bozeman? I'm sure I'll need some friends to show me trails and maybe someone local to help with fixing something down the line. I'm used to having my garage full of tools! How are the trails? How strict are fender laws? I'm thinking of getting some flat fenders.



Thanks

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Old 01-21-2014, 09:46 AM   #2
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Not too much really exciting close to Bozeman. Flathead Pass makes a fun drive but not really wheeling in my book unless you want to do it with 4' of snow. A lot of nice trails in the Tobacco Roots about 30 wiles west of Bozeman.

Below is a little blurb I put together on the Tobacco Roots.
Here are a few of my Tobacco Root Mountains favorites that are close to home:

South Meadow Creek, FS 1221. N45° 27.606', W111° 52.188' McAllister access. My stock JK Rubicon has no problems with it, but a couple of spots you need to pick the line well. Piece of cake for the 3B on 33's. Another trail (6361) branches to the north after the Missouri/McKee mine/mill and tops out on the ridge at South Baldy Mountain (10,105') with a loop option to take Trail 6362 back to the Washington Creek Road.
South Meadow Lake

Missouri/McKee ruins


North Meadow Creek, FS 965/6338/6340. N45° 30.817', W111° 47.579' McAllister access or take Warm Springs Creek road over the Revenue Flats from Norris. You might get a stock JK/TJ up these but highly likely they will not look too good after the run. Lots of boulders and tight spots and I'm going to say lockers and/or winch necessary but rewards are some great scenery. Lakes include Upper and Lower Twin Lakes, McKelvey, Cliff, Mine (on some maps Alpine), and Kid Lakes.
Lower Twin Lake

Upper Twin

Cliff Lake


N. Meadow to S. Willow Creek, FS160, N45° 32.174', W111° 52.110' McAllister access. Only a couple miles of real Jeep trail-very steep and can get pretty muddy. A lot of gravel and semi-Jeep road on both ends.

South Boulder River, FS 107. N45° 48.187', W111° 55.570' Cardwell access. Twenty something miles of gravel with about 4 miles good Jeep trail to Sailor Lake trail head (1/4 mile hike to lake-Trail 7140, another 1/4 mile hike to Globe Lake, and maybe 1.5 mile hike (Trail 7167) to Brannan Lakes. Hiking access to Louise, Curly and Lost Cabin Lakes also off this road. Road passes through the old Mining town of Mammoth.
Upper and Lower Brannan Lakes

Curly Lake


Wisconsin Creek/Noble Fork, FS 6370/8300/6015. N45° 27.585', W112° 11.836' Sheridan access. Another very scenic area with several lakes, including Crystal, Jackson, Sunrise, Noble, and Blossom. The only one you can directly drive to is Noble Lake. Stock Jeep can probably make all trails but some of the Noble Fork trail where a little more clearence is highly desirable.
Noble Lake

Blossom Lake


Dry Boulder Creek/Boulder Lakes, FS 1007. N45° 35.845', W112° 14.832' Twin Bridges access. Cake walk into lower Boulder Lake but trail from Lower to Upper Boulder Lake has a couple shelfs where you will want lockers on both ends or you will be running line.
Upper Boulder Lake


Indian Creek, FS 158. N45° 27.606', W112° 09.853' Sheridan access. Not too challanging but again, nice scenery. Used to be able to drive into Rossiter Lake but FS rebuilt the last 3 to 4 miles of trail for hiking only. Hill Reservoir (breached?-have seen no water in it for a number of years), Taylor Lake (swamp), Oval and Triangle Lakes (both small but nice) also up this drainage.
Rossiter Lake


Pony/Windy Pass/N. Willow/Cataract Creek. N45° 39.540', W111° 54.232' Many, many prospects and old mines, along with several remains of small mills. Some of this burned summer 2012 and I am not sure what is now open. Cataract Lake is a drive to, Upper and Lower Mason Lakes not much of a hike, but not much for lakes either.
Upper Mason Lake


A word of caution: if you are camping in the Tobacco Roots, pay attention to the FS bear requirements. We came face to face with a grizzly sow and 2 cubs a year back. That encounter turned out well for all participants but could have been really ugly. And it was a little costly. Bought a S&W 500 to replace the 44 mag after that incident.

And I don't think flat fenders will be a problem around here. There are regs to have wheels covered but essentially no enforcement unless something is really obnoxious.

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Old 01-24-2014, 02:06 AM   #3
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Wow, thank you for all the info. That drive would be no problem, I currently drive 3-4 hours for wheeling every month or so, more often in the summer I'll have to check those trails out for sure when I come! I'll keep an eye out for club runs next year too.

Thanks again
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Old 02-04-2014, 10:39 AM   #4
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I didn't think there was any public wheeling around pony. I would've made use ( if I'd known and fires weren't raging) , I also thought the lakes are all tied up in private ground up there as well. Is there any more info on that area anywhere?
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Old 02-05-2014, 08:50 AM   #5
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Pony area from Beaverhead/Deer Lodge FS map


If you are trying to get up North Willow Creek, yes, that road is closed to 4x4's (but open to ATV/bikers) at the FS boundary. However, the area directly west of Pony is, for the most part, BLM/FS with the only private ground being the mining claims. Most of that area is open for wheeling.
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Old 02-09-2014, 12:40 PM   #6
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I will also be moving to Bozeman next week, Jeep to follow a few weeks later. This thread has made me very excited!!

"Life begins where the pavement ends"
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Old 03-09-2014, 05:39 PM   #7
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A great book to buy is the 4x4 routes of western Montana. Only 25$ but it has tons off road trails around western Montana.
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Old 03-17-2014, 12:39 PM   #8
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A great book to buy is the 4x4 routes of western Montana. Only 25$ but it has tons off road trails around western Montana.
It is a nice trail guide, but its coverage is limited to areas fairly close to Missoula. Willie and Jeane are working on a couple more that should expand coverage into SW Montana but I'm not sure when the projected publish dates are.
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Old 03-30-2014, 12:12 AM   #9
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I'm just over the pass in Livingston. Hoping to get the Jeep fixed before summer.
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Old 03-30-2014, 10:07 AM   #10
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Billings here!!! Anyone have a scenic route besides the usual Beartooth to Cooke City?
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Old 03-31-2014, 10:11 AM   #11
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Billings here!!! Anyone have a scenic route besides the usual Beartooth to Cooke City?
Do you actually get off 212 when going to Cooke? There are a lot of scenic diversions off that road, including the Morrison Jeep trail, Hellroaring Plateau road (turns off 212 at the campground at the bottom of the switchbacks), and the Daisy/Lulu Pass-Goose Lake roads out of Cooke City. All doable with a stock Jeep but some lift and good skids advised for the latter.

Another scenic route for just a drive is FS 274/487 from Martinsdale to Utica through the Little Belts. Lots of diversions off that too.

Another drive is over Duck Creek Pass between Canyon Ferry Lake and White Sulphur Springs-several options on that route also, but that's getting quite aways away from Billings.
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Old 03-31-2014, 10:51 AM   #12
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Been to all of them. Just hoping for something "new" to me.
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Old 05-06-2014, 11:29 AM   #13
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Old 08-17-2014, 04:52 AM   #14
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I will be moving up to Bozeman on Wednesday. Hope to meet some of you soon
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Old 08-21-2014, 10:24 AM   #15
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Well, did you get moved in? Dorms or off campus?

Connect with these guys if you are interested in group trail rides:

Mountaineers 4x4 Club - Bozeman, MT

Also, the two best 4x4 shops in the area are Dark Horse Customs and Mike's Offroad. Both are good and may also line you out on some trails. Both of them should sell tickets to walk through the shops-some amazing projects.

Not sure how this weekend will play out weather wise, but we may hit the Sheridan side of the T Roots. But realize, my friends and I are probably old enough to be your great grand parents.
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Old 08-22-2014, 06:32 PM   #16
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Yep, all moved in. Jeep made the drive up with no problems. I did a tummy tuck before I left and now have my exhaust pipe touching the upper control arm mount so because I don't have the tools I need up here I will probably have to bring it to an exhaust shop this week.

I'm staying on campus in the freshman apartments so I get my own room. Very nice up here! It will probably be a couple weeks before I get used to the new schedule and find some time to go exploring.
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Old 08-25-2014, 10:21 AM   #17
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Well, Noble Fork/Noble Lake was a bit on the nasty side last weekend. We were planning on staying the weekend and hiking Mustard Pass but for some reason it was all white. Snow line 10000'? My butt-never trust a weather forecast.
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Old 08-27-2014, 06:05 PM   #18
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I went up in Hylite (is that how you spell it?) With some new friends and had a good time in the mud up there. Not a huge fan of mud but still a good way to meet some people.

For the cold temps up here, do you guys use freeze plug heaters or oil pan heaters? I should have installed a freeze plug heater at home when I had the tools. I may have to pay someone up here to install it unless they can be installed with simple hand tools. Any problems with just with oil pan heaters? I won't be driving it too much in the winter, maybe 1-2 times per week to go to the store or the ski resort.
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Old 08-29-2014, 10:31 AM   #19
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A lot of people use headbolt heaters, you only need to plug it in for 30-45 min before starting, need to knock out a water plug to install. Which means burping your system again. I believe there's a Tire Rama on east main and they can do it for reasonable price. I'd check to make sure you don't have one, seems to me a block heater would come standard. At least in Montana they have with any new vehicle since the mid 90's.

Also check out Montana jeep adventures on Facebook, there's the occasional rock climb and weekend trail rides throughout the year around the state, and normally the info will pop up there.
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Old 08-31-2014, 11:22 PM   #20
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I thought headbolt heaters went they way of dodo birds and L heads. Haven't seen a new one for 3 decades but maybe just because I haven't looked. A block heater is the most efficient way to do this-just about all the btu input is transferred to where it does the most good. Pan heaters sort of work, but not very well. Tank heaters and radiator hose heaters are the 2nd and 3rd best options, do work, but just not as well as a block heater.

If you have an engine block with accessible "frost plugs", block heater are easy to install and are usually available a both factory and dealer options. I'm pretty sure Bozeman's O'Reillys will have them for either the 3.8 or 3.6. When my wife and I ordered the JK, a block heater was one of the two options we selected.
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Old 09-04-2014, 03:32 AM   #21
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Do you actually get off 212 when going to Cooke? There are a lot of scenic diversions off that road, including the Morrison Jeep trail, Hellroaring Plateau road (turns off 212 at the campground at the bottom of the switchbacks), and the Daisy/Lulu Pass-Goose Lake roads out of Cooke City. All doable with a stock Jeep but some lift and good skids advised for the latter.

Another scenic route for just a drive is FS 274/487 from Martinsdale to Utica through the Little Belts. Lots of diversions off that too.

Another drive is over Duck Creek Pass between Canyon Ferry Lake and White Sulphur Springs-several options on that route also, but that's getting quite aways away from Billings.
heading to Goose Lake tomorrow and hit that and Morrison Trail. Heard Morrison trail can be a nail biter lol. did Noble lake a month ago and was still snow in places and fisher lake (granite county) last sunday and it was nice.
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Old 09-04-2014, 09:48 AM   #22
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did Noble lake a month ago and was still snow in places
Hit Noble Fork 2 weeks ago in the midst of all that rain/snow. Brand new MT's and both axles locked wasn't enough to get through the mud pit-had to string line. Horizontal snow (about 30 mph wind) at the lake. We were going to hike Mustard Pass but bagged it.

Goose Lake should be good. Are you going to hike to Grasshopper Glacier? Definitely worth the time. There is also a lot of ancient mining artifacts between Goose and Little Goose Lakes.
Mining debris


Looking into West Rosebud Creek from the top of Grasshopper Glacier
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Old 09-04-2014, 01:03 PM   #23
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Hit Noble Fork 2 weeks ago in the midst of all that rain/snow. Brand new MT's and both axles locked wasn't enough to get through the mud pit-had to string line. Horizontal snow (about 30 mph wind) at the lake. We were going to hike Mustard Pass but bagged it.

Goose Lake should be good. Are you going to hike to Grasshopper Glacier? Definitely worth the time. There is also a lot of ancient mining artifacts between Goose and Little Goose Lakes.
Mining debris


Looking into West Rosebud Creek from the top of Grasshopper Glacier
probably will as my buddy Willie loves mining artifacts.

this was probably the mud pit.It was pretty soft and boggy when we went thru
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Old 09-04-2014, 03:37 PM   #24
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probably will as my buddy Willie loves mining artifacts.

this was probably the mud pit.It was pretty soft and boggy when we went thru
Nope, closer to the lake than that one. It's sort of open around it and it's on a pretty good grade-guessing 20-25%. I have gone through it a number of times in the past but with snot on both ends from all the rain, just couldn't push through it.

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