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  • Peter D. Bouloukos

Hell Roaring Creek, Gallatin County, Montana

Hell Roaring is a worthy 500 feet elevation gain just beyond Storm Castle along the 191 heading South to Big Sky, Montana. From Four Corners, Montana, it is 18.5 miles to the parking lot inside of the Gallatin Canyon. Hell Roaring Creek is a tributary of the Gallatin River being fed from Hell Roaring Lake at the base of a steep, narrow drainage between Wilson Peak and Jumbo Mountain part of the Spanish Peaks outside of Big Sky, Montana. From the 191 parking lot it is 500 feet of switchbacks, they are long and relatively easy. The path is clear and wide, often used by local ranches who do horse tours so expect droppings and flies from the middle of spring until mid-October. Once you hit the ridge it's a gradual decent to Hell Roaring Creek and just the bridge scenery is worth a short day hike for new hikers or anyone who wants to take some great pictures. Beyond the bridge is a single track hike through a few nice meadows and it's lined by steep cliffs and terrain. The trail parallels the creek and after spring runoff it's great for the dogs with plenty of access points to the moving water. It does "roar" during run off and this part of the Gallatin range sucks in plenty of storm clouds year round so be prepared even on the warmest and sunniest of days from Bozeman or Big Sky. The trail picks up the Lee Metcalf Wilderness area at the 2.5 mile mark. A great day hike turnaround if you enjoy paralleling the creek with a continuous display of whitewater, small falls, cascades and pools. This trail accesses a network of other trails extending to multiple alpine lakes and peaks. If you plan to go beyond the five mile marker you will want a tent and appropriate gear. Destinations include Hell Roaring Lake, Table Mountain, Gallatin Peak and Summit Lake. I have yet to go beyond the 2.5 mile marker but as always more to follow soon enough! I have heard of plenty of bears in the area but have yet to see any sign along the trail. But know there is a bit of everything back there so always be careful even in groups. During the winter months a few years ago I saw a wolf playing around in the snow near the parking lot. The hike to the creek is lined with tall lodgepole pines and for the photographers the wildflowers during the late spring and early summer weeks are fantastic. I have seen a Northern Rocky Mountain Blue jay and tracks of a decent sized Badger I think we startled coming around a bend headed back down to the parking lot. This hike to the Lee Metcalf is mostly tree lined and alright on warmer days with animals due to the constant water and shade. Again, just hiking up the hill and down to the bridge is rewarding! I am rating the hike I described as easy and fun.

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