Three Passes

Big Timber, Montana 59011

Three Passes

Three Passes Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"A demanding, multiday backpacking adventure through the remote and uncrowded heart of the Absaroka Mountains, including scenic trips over three high-altitude passes.

We did this route in four days, but I wish we had taken five. It would have been a more enjoyable (but still difficult) trip. Even though it’s 8.5 miles uphill (most of it gradual), I suggest trying to make it to Silver Lake, a delightful place, for the first night out. The next best option for the first campsite would be the junction of the Silver Lake and Fourmile Creek Trails, which means a shorter day but a less spectacular campsite. Spend the second night along East Fork Mill Creek somewhere near the junction of the East Fork Mill Creek Pass Trail and Agate Springs, and the third night along the West Boulder River or first part of Falls Creek. The last night out probably won’t be ideal, with the best choice probably being somewhere in the open meadows just over Speculator Pass."

Three Passes Reviews

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This is a beautiful and demanding trip. Each pass has beautiful views of different areas, and the climbs are demanding at times. The Speculator Pass trail is no longer maintained -this means many trees to climb over, and the trail disappears repeatedly. At times we had to bushwack for up to a half mile before our search turned up the trail again. Also much of Speculator Trail is through bogs and streams. West Boulder Trail also has numerous stream crossings and bogs, waterproof boots are essential! Tremendous wild country with amazing views, and very demanding. The climb up Speculator pass is mountaineering, not a simple backpacking trail. Not for those who are not very fit, and experienced hikers.

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Trail Information

Big Timber
Nearby City
Trail Type
Skill Level
2 to 3 day back
USGS Chrome Mountain, Mount Douglas, The Needles, The Pyramid, Mount Cowen, and West Boulder Plateau; RMS Mount Cowen Area; and at least 1 wilderness-wide map
Local Contacts