Welcome Creek Trail

Lolo, Montana 59847

Welcome Creek Trail

Welcome Creek Trail Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"The Welcome Creek Wilderness is a little-used mountain gem located up Rock Creek. The wilderness is low elevation and heavily forested, which makes for superb wildlife habitat. The area is teeming with big game and has become home to the grizzly bear in recent years.

Native American artifacts are present but hard to find. More obvious are the remnants left by the pioneers who once attempted to tame the wilds of Welcome Creek. The trail is overgrown in spots, but the untraveled feel makes up for the inconvenience. Gold mines once dotted the creek, which produced a 1.5-pound gold nugget, one of Montana’s largest."

More Welcome Creek Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Day Hikes around Missoula, Montana (Day Hike Books)
Robert Stone
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"The Welcome Creek Trail lies along the northern Sapphire Mountains in the 28,1 35-acre Welcome Creek Wilderness, the smallest designated wilderness area in Montana. The remote trail in the Rock Creek drainage enters a quiet, narrow canyon through an old-growth forest, passing 1 900s-era gold mining ruins and abandoned log cabins. An Indiana Jones-style suspension bridge at the beginning of this hike makes the Welcome Creek Trail a hike long remembered. The suspension bridge crosses high over Rock Creek and a white sand beach below. The entire Welcome Creek Trail climbs 7.5 miles to the rocky divide near Cleveland Mountain. This hike takes in the first 2.5 miles to the confluence with Cinnabar Creek."
Hiking Montana (Falcon Guides)
Bill Schneider & Russ Schneider
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"A day hike or overnighter into one of Montana’s smallest wilderness areas, the Welcome Creek Wilderness"

Welcome Creek Trail Trip Reports

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This was our first overnight backpacking trip and it was for 3 nights. We had day-hiked this trail several times in the past, but had hoped to make it to the lake this time. Unfortunately at 6 1/2 miles in, the trail was totally flooded out as far as we could see on either side (there had been a lot of rain over the previous week). We ended up camping and gradually hiking our way out. It is a wonderful hike - one of the most beautiful in the Valley and that is saying a lot. We discovered the fires only opened it up more in the lower half and made the granite canyon walls even more visible. Be prepared to see moose on the trail (we did) and the locals say there are quite a few cougars as well.
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Maybe the best thing about this hike is that you can make it as easy or tough as you like. As an out-and-back you can turn around any time, and the scenery throughout is great - big rock canyons in all directions. Lots of traffic with climbers and day hikers. There are several places where a creek parallels the trail, and the creek is full of native cutthroats that rarely see an artificial fly, so bring your trail rod. Wonderful day hike from Missoula!

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Trail Information

Nearby City
Trail Type
Skill Level
2.5 hours
Lolo National Forest Supervisor’s Office, Fort Missoula Building 24A, Missoula, MT 59804; (406) 329-3814; www.fs.usda.gov/lolo/
Local Contacts
USGS Grizzly Point; USDAFS Lolo National Forest Map, available at the district office
Local Maps