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Montana Birding and Nature Trail
Discover the Nature of Montana...

Trails and Maps

   

Sam Billings Campground/ Boulder Creek Trail

Rare Big Pines

Giant ponderosa pine trees

There are few places left in western Montana where you can see these trees. This campground is one of them, and accessible too.

Sam Billings Campground/ Boulder Creek Trail Site Map

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Field Notes

Drumming of pileated woodpeckers and scents of vanilla waft from big pines, where brown creepers nest under peeling ponderosa pine bark. Moose tracks etch the mud by the spruce-lined creek. Butterflies - blues, swallowtails, and admirals - crowd sunny openings near Boulder Creek. At night, a saw-whet owl hoots from a high limb above the campground.

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Habitat Link

Old-growth ponderosas support pileated woodpeckers and brown creepers that need large-diameter trees for nesting. The adjacent Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness offers connections from pines to wild country for elusive wildlife like fishers and wolverines.

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Cultural Link

The campground name honors forester Sam Billings, who saw that the big pines here should be left for the people to enjoy.

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Viewing Tip

Three-foot diameter pines are scattered in the campground. It's also worth a hike 4.5 miles up Boulder Creek trail to the falls. The trail gently ascends through big pines, fir and spruce with streamside understory of western yew, Oregon grape and kinnikinnick. Moose are common. Watch for pikas and marmots in talus slopes.

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Helpful Hint

Moose are big and can be aggressive toward dogs. Always keep a dog on a leash. If you see a moose, enjoy watching from a distance. Don't approach.

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Getting There

From the junction of Highway 93 and the West Fork Road, drive 13 miles on the paved West Fork Road. Turn north at the sign to the Sam Billings Memorial Campground. Drive 1 mile to campground and a few hundred yards past to the trailhead.

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Contact

Bitterroot National Forest, West Fork Ranger District, 6735 W. Fork Rd., Darby, Montana 59829; (406)821-3269

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Site Information

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