One of the smallest mountain ranges in Montana is the Flint Creek Range. Situated between I-90 on the east and Montana State Highway 1 on the west, this dramatic range stands out from the Deer Lodge Valley.
The range was once filled with miners; the west side of the range had a significant silver discovery. The Town of Anaconda on the south side of the range once served as the state’s primary mineral smelting location.
From the top of Mount Powell, you can still see the Anaconda Stack, which is considered to be the tallest structure of its type in the world. Granite Ghost Town is the last remaining remnant of the silver mining history of the Flint Range.
Many people don’t know much about the Flint Creek Range. Almost 60,000 acres of the range do not have access roads or trails, limiting recreational activities in this mountain range to those with a sense of adventure, and a good 4-wheel drive vehicle.
The most recognizable part of the Flint Creek Range is the towering Mount Powell. It and the ridge that runs north to Deer Lodge Mountain can be easily seen from I-90 and has often been described to look like the backbone of a dinosaur.
Despite limited access in this area, it is popular with hunters and fishers who don’t mind working a little for a great spot and a little peace and quiet. The south end of the Flint Creek Range is home to Lost Creek State Park and the Discovery Ski area which provides winter recreational activities.
The Flint Creek Range Statistics
- Highest Elevation: 10,168 feet (3,099 meters)
- Most Recognizable Peak: Mount Powell
- Season: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Recreational activities in the Flint Creek Range are quite limited, with minimal access to the area. However, there are some nice options if you’re willing to work a little. Trails in this area are maintained by a group of volunteers, so you may find that trail conditions vary widely even on the same trail.
Visitors to the Flint Creek Range should be prepared for remote conditions, weak to no cell phone service, and limited access roads that require appropriate vehicles (4WD and high clearance) for safe passage.
Hiking trails in the Flint Creek Range are minimal. We only found around 10 designated trails in the area. Many of these trails are poorly maintained and require a bit of bushwhacking. The most popular trails for hikers include the trail to Mount Powell and the Trail to Trask Lakes which are popular for fly fishing.
There is one designated Forest Service campground in the Flint Creek Range. The Flint Creek Campground is located on the southwest end of the range, near Georgetown lake. This is a pretty popular campground, and it does not take reservations.
Discrete camping is allowed in the area on Forest Service land. The Flint Creek Range is located in the Beaverhead-Deer Lodge National Forest. Before you utilize discrete camping opportunities in the area make sure you familiarize yourself with the Forest Service rules and regulations.
Winter sports are limited in this range due to the remote nature of the area. Cross-country skiing is pretty difficult with minimal designated trails. Visitors to the Flint Creek Range during the winter will enjoy downhill skiing at Discovery Ski Area, located on the south end of the range.
With a number of pristine alpine lakes and the large Georgetown Lake in the Flint Creek Range, fishing is one of the most popular activities in the area. Many dedicated fly-fishing enthusiasts will hike to the more remote alpine lakes, using the Mount Powell trails for a nearly perfect brook and rainbow trout habitat.
Georgetown Lake provides shoreside fishing opportunities that are more easily accessible for most visitors. Before fishing in the Flint Creek Range, check out the website for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks for information on fishing rules and regulations and to purchase a fishing license.
Hunting is probably the most popular recreation activity in the Flint Creek Range. Those wishing to collect deer, game birds, and small game animals will enjoy this area. However, many hunters in the Flint Creek Range find that it is easier and safer to access most of the area using an ATV.
As with fishing, make sure to read up on Montana’s hunting regulations and apply for a hunting license before you get out in the wilderness.
Dirt Biking/ATV Riding
With minimal trails for hiking or mountain biking, most visitors to this area will utilize dirt bikes, ATV or even 4WD vehicles. There are a few very difficult roads that will take you deep into the Flint Creek Range, but they aren’t safe for regular passenger vehicles. Much of the “trail” access in the Flint Creek Range is only accessible by dirt bikes or ATVs.
There are very few designated trails within the Flint Creek Range. Maybe it’s because this range tucks right next to the Bitterroot Range, filled with tons of trails, or maybe it’s because this range has such extreme climbs and steep rock walls that it’s just not as popular for trail-use activities.
You’ll use the Rock Creek Trail to access Trask Lakes. is a moderately difficult trail that takes you 15.8 miles out and back to the Trask Lakes. This area is popular for fishing and has some of the best views of the taller peaks in the Flint Creek Range including Mount Powell and Racetrack Peak.
This trail isn’t well maintained and many visitors to this area have indicated that it requires a bit more time and skill to access due to downfall and limited maintenance.
You’ll not find an actual trail to the summit of Mount Powell, but it is a surprisingly popular hike for those looking for a good, challenging day hike. You can do this hike as a loop which ends up being around 14-miles, or do an out and back to the summit of Mount Powell, which is still about 11-miles but is an easier route.
You’ll park along FS Road #8507 near the ORV trailhead. Since the area is pretty well used, you’ll find a number of cars parked along the road and will probably encounter plenty of others hiking the summit.
For an added bit of distance and adventure, hike the Crater ridge to Deer Lodge Mountain. This hike along the ridge is only about 1.5-miles.
In the spring and summer, this trail is really popular with visitors to the Flint Creek Range. Located within the Lost Creek State Park, this trail has a little bit of something for everyone. If you’re not into big hikes, or if you’ve got small children with you, take the quarter-mile hike to the Lost Creek Falls. This 50-foot waterfall is a great spot to have a snack and take some pictures.
More adventurous hikers can continue along the full 11.2 miles on this trail. You’ll find a pretty decent amount of elevation gain (1,443 feet), but it’s a relatively moderate climb. The Lost Creek Trail ends at the junction with Foster Creek Trail. From here you can turn back to the State Park, or continue down the Foster Creek Trail.
This trail has undergone improvements in recent years making it ideal for single-track mountain biking.
If you can find the trailhead for the Boulder Lakes trail, you’ll be really pleased with this hike. The road that you take to get to the trailhead is pretty rough, so make sure you come in a high-clearance vehicle. 4WD isn’t necessary, but it helps.
The Boulder Lakes trail is a relatively easy trail with a moderate elevation gain. There seems to be a lot of downfall on this trail which adds to the challenge. This trail tends to have snow and a significant amount of water until the middle of the summer. It’s recommended that you wait until June or later to try this trail.
For the Dolus Lakes trail, you’ll start at nearly the same starting point as the Rock Creek Trail. This is a moderate trail that is a short 6.6 miles out and back. This hike has a pretty good amount of elevation gain at the beginning of the trail, but the trail levels out and follows the valley. The trail ends at Dolus Lake. There are some designated camping spots around Dolus Lake if you want to use this as an overnight camping spot.
This trail is really popular for cross country skiing in the winter. It is a relatively flat trail that takes you a total of 3.2-miles out and back. While this is a nice, easy hike, the trail name is deceptive. While you’ll get a glimpse of Echo Lake, the trail doesn’t really provide access to the lake.
Mostly this hike is up a county road, but county road 169 is pretty rough, so many people like to hike, mountain bike, or travel by ATV on this trail. This is a really short 2.1-mile, out and back hike. It ends at Granite Ghost Town, an old silver mining settlement.
Not much of the town remains, but the State Parks Service does maintain what is left of the Union Hall and Superintendent’s house. There are some basic informational signs around the ghost town, which history buffs might find interesting.