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U.S. Forest Service

Northern Region Viewing Area


wildflowers viewed from the Red Canyon Trail. View from West Pine / Dry Creek Ridge. Photo by Wendi Urie, Livingston Ranger District.

wildflowers viewed from the Red Canyon Trail. Blue Stickseed (Hackelia micrantha). Photo by Gary A. Monroe @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database.

Balsamorhiza macrophylla. Arrowleaf Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata). Photo by Al Schneider @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database.

West Pine / Dry Creek Ridge

Forest: Gallatin National Forest

District: Livingston Ranger District

Description: The West Pine Creek trail is a newly constructed trail after the 2001 Fridley Fire. The trailhead is located at the end of the South Fork of West Pine Road #976. The trail climbs up switchbacks through a burned area and ascends to an open grassland ridge. At this point, the trail leaves the forested area offering fabulous views of Paradise Valley and the Absaroka Mountain Range. The best wildflower viewing is in the first approximately 2.5 miles after which the trail returns to the burn and climbs steeply—use the giant rock cairn as your turn-around point! The first portion of the West Pine Creek Trail (#139) is moderately difficult hiking through a blacked forest from the 2001 Fridley Fire. But there is a nice grade and good footing with excellent opportunities for extensive displays of fireweed (and woodpeckers). The trail continues to climb gently breaking into mountain meadows with ever-blooming seasonal displays of wildflowers.

Viewing Information: Throughout the year numerous wildflowers can be seen in throughout this beautiful area. Spring ephemerals and other early bloomers include sagebrush buttercup, shooting star, yellowbell, pasque flower, and arrowleaf balsamroot. Summer through fall bloomers include: harebell, sticky geranium, American bistort, lupine, blue flax, buckwheat, pussy-toes, blue stickseed, and yarrow. Also look for sagebrush and a diversity of native grasses and sedges. Viewing is best from early June to mid-August.

Safety First: Drive slowly and cautiously as the access routes are gravel and narrow with blind corners. You may encounter wildlife along the trail which can add to your adventure. Moose, elk, deer inhabit the area as well as do bears and mountain lion. Be aware that all wildlife can be dangerous. Stay aware and alert wildlife to your presence by making noise. If you encounter wildlife, do not approach but back away or take a different route. Carry bear pepper spray and know how to use it. Use caution in the burned areas and watch for hazardous falling trees. Be prepared in spring, summer and autumn for rapid changes in weather as thunderstorms may develop rapidly. Summer temperatures can be high, 90 to 100 F. Bring plenty of sunscreen and insect repellant.

Directions: From Livingston, take Highway 89 South approximately 8 miles to Divide Road and turn right (west) which turns into Old Yellowstone Trail after approximately 1 mile. Bear left but immediately take the right fork off of Old Yellowstone Trail and continue on Divide Road. Follow Divide Road approximately 4 miles to Trail Creek Road. Turn left (south) and look for West Pine Creek Road #978 on your right (approximately 2 miles). Follow West Pine Creek Road until you reach National Forest and the South Fork of West Pine Creek Road #976. This road crosses West Pine Creek and leads to the West Pine Creek trailhead.

Ownership and Management: U.S. Forest Service, Gallatin National Forest, Livingston Ranger District located in Livingston, MT; 406-222-1892.

Closest Town: Livingston, Montana.