by Marie Hoyer
A hike in the forest is what you can experience as you set upon the Ulhorn Hiking Trail located 23 miles southwest of Lewistown. The trailhead to the natural and undeveloped area is located on Highway 238 in the Snowy Mountains, which is part of the Lewis & Clark National Forest. In cooperation with the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and the Back Country Horsemen, time and talent is used to enrich the area.
A large sign at the trail’s entrance in the parking lot marks the beginning of the winding earthen trail. A vault toilet is also located in the area along with a few picnic tables. As horses and riders are allowed on the trail, hitching posts are also available at the entrance. No mechanized or motorized vehicles are allowed on the trail. Footprints – equine or human – only.
Although from a distance the Snowy Mountains look gently rolling, there are high ridges and steep canyons with spectacular scenery to enhance the hiking experience for the adventurous. Many rock formations of various shapes and cliffs of Madison Limestone may be observed. The dominant tree species are ponderosa pine, douglas fir, and subalpine. A moderate type trail goes to Half Moon Pass where you can look over into Swimming Woman Canyon. From there the trail becomes a bit more challenging as it leads to Knife Blade Ridge where fossils may be found. After you leave Knife Blade Ridge, the trail continues to Great House Peak (elevation 8,681 feet). On a clear day, you may see to Canada or Yellowstone. Further on, it leads to Crystal Lake on the other end of the Snowies.
Open meadows may be found suitable for a campsite. Wild flowers may be found during different seasons. (Please do not pick them.) Although wild animals may not physically be seen, evidence of their presence may be noticed by their trails, footprints, scat, or other signs.
A few things to consider when taking a short or long hike such as this, or any outdoor activity, is to let someone know the area where you might be, take plenty of water, and wear warm layers of clothing. If you pack it in, pack it out, and most importantly, if you light a campfire, make sure it is totally out.
A map of the area may be obtained from your nearest BLM office.