Gates of the Mountains Wilderness

York, Montana 59483

Gates of the Mountains Wilderness

Gates of the Mountains Wilderness Professional Review and Guide

"Lewis and Clark wrote about a stretch of the Missouri River where 1,200-foot sheer cliffs on either side of the river seemed to close like “gates” behind them. The explorers named this area Gates of the Mountains and there is now a 28,560-acre wilderness area which includes the “gates” mentioned in the journals of Lewis and Clark. Located at the north end of the Big Belt Mountains, the Gates of the Mountains is Montana’s smallest wilderness area.

From the boat landing at Meriwether Picnic Area, families can take the Missouri River Canyon Trail to Coulter Campground or walk to Vista Point. The wilderness area is also the site of the 1949 Mann Gulch fire where 13 firefighters died. Norman Maclean’s book Young Men and Fire describes the event. An on-site memorial can be visited by the hearty who want to walk the 2-mile, steep trail. This eTrail provides detailed information on family-friendly things to do. The destinations include: Gates of the Mountains Boat Tour, Meriwether Picnic Area: Vista Point Trail, Missouri River Canyon Trail 257 to Coulter Campground, Refrigerator Canyon Trail 259, and Hogback Lookout."

Gates of the Mountains Wilderness Reviews

4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars
icon1 Total
Just returned from a 4 day hike through this wilderness. Started at Big Log Gulch,easy hike to Left Fork,ticks galore,nice steam of clear water,good camping. Left Fork to Keepout Gulch steep but good trail. Keepout to Kennedy Spring very wet with two feet snow along creek,elev 6500,no dry place to camp,breathtaking views, connects with Meriwether Canyon Trail.Next day couldn't continue loop around mountain (no name)2 feet of snow, couldn't see trail,very steep slope.Went off trail straight over mountain using dry land between snow drifts,very steep,west side of mountain melted off, traversed slope to connect with Meriwether Canyon Trail,lots of winter erosion on trail no one had hiked through yet, lost the trail a few times, mostly all downhill to creek,good water at spring and clear runoff. Ten creek crossings,easy,trail well defined down to Meriwether Picnic Area,boats only access, nice picnic facility,ranger station closed,good view of Gates of the Mountains,beautiful Missouri River.Hiked upriver on River Trail to Coulter Campground,boat access only,nice facility,bear precautions,food safeboxes,lots of fishing boats,spent the night,saw notice next day "No Camping" - ops.Hiked upriver to cut across trail to Grant Gulch,river trail very easy,trail to top of Grant very steep,lost the trail few times,no water,spectacular view of river and cliffs,view from top of Grant Gulch south spectaclar,straight shot down through grassy bowl to road leading back to Big Log Trailhead. This trail would be easier in May or June with no snow and after trail maintenance. The views are very memorable,lots of wildlife - take your camera. I hiked for about 23 hours,about 30 map miles, up and down? I lost about an hour on wrong trail to Sawtooth mountain. There are a lot of great trails in this wilderness. Parts of this route are very steep, recommend good physical condition.

Gates of the Mountains Wilderness Photos

Help others discover amazing sights!

Trail Information

Nearby City
Several options
Trail Type
Contact information for each destination is provided in the eTrail.
Local Contacts

Activity Feed

Jul 2018