Neihart, Montana is one of the small towns in the state that hangs on even though the mining booms of the state have long since passed. Though very small, Neihart has an interesting history and offers a unique look into Montana’s mining history.
Neihart was established in approximately July of 1881, when three men from the small mining camp of Barker, discovered silver in the area near present-day Neihart. The three men; James LeRoy Neihart, Richard Harley, and John O’Brian had a successful mining claim and as word of their success traveled through the area, more and more men came to try their luck.
With more men arriving, the small community of Canyon City was established. This mining community was never officially organized or established, but it was eventually renamed Neihart after James LeRoy.
Over the years, Neihart has seen many booms and busts. When the railroad came to Neihart, another era of prosperity found the town. Besides silver, the rock around Neihart has numerous mineral deposits. Other minerals that have been mined in the Neihart area include gold, amethyst, sapphires, lead, and zinc.
Let’s take a closer look at the small Montana town of Neihart, including activities you will find in the area.
A Guide to Neihart, Montana
Today, Neihart is the only town on US Route 89 between Monarch and White Sulfur Springs. This tiny community is home to approximately 50 people, and portions of the town are now abandoned and stand as ghost towns from more prosperous times.
Main Attractions in Neihart, Montana
Sluice Boxes State Park
This state park is tucked into the Belt Creek Canyon. The main access and trail for the Park is the former railroad bed that once hauled mine ore from the canyon’s highly productive mines to smelters in the area.
Today, the railroad bridges and tracks have been removed, and hikers in the park wade through the cold, spring-fed waters of Belt Creek, to explore the 8-miles of the Sluice Boxes State Park.
Runoff flows from the Little Belt Mountains make this creek very swift and dangerous during the spring so the best time to visit is during the low flow months from July to September.
The scenic Memorial Falls is one of two waterfalls that are accessed from the Memorial Falls Trail #738, located off Highway 89 near Neihart.
This easy 1-mile round trip hike offers beautiful views of the Little Belt Mountains, as well as two pretty waterfalls. As you are traveling the Kings Hill Scenic Byway this is one stop that is worth the stop.
Kings Hill Scenic Byway
Kings Hill Scenic Byway is the complete drive on U.S. Route 89 as it travels north to south between White Sulfur Springs and the Junction with U.S. Highway 87. This beautiful drive travels right through the heart of the Little Belt Mountains and the Lewis and Clark National Forest.
The route is a leisurely 71-mile drive. It is a two-lane road and during the summer months can be fairly busy. In the winter road conditions can be challenging, however, the views of the mountains and the abandoned mines and ghost towns that dot the hillsides are worth the 2-hour drive.
Showdown Ski Area
If you are a fan of great winter recreation, Showdown Ski Area is a great place to enjoy some relaxed downhill skiing and some of the most beautiful vistas in the Little Belts.
Like many other ski areas in Montana, Showdown also offers summertime recreation including mountain biking and hiking.
Recreation Activities in Neihart, Montana
Visitors to the Neihart area will enjoy ample opportunities for hiking. Located in the Lewis and Clark National Forest, there are plenty of established trails that allow you to explore the hills around Neihart.
With plenty of ghost towns and abandoned mines along trails in the area, this part of the Little Belt Mountains offers plenty of exploring for the experienced hiker.
Sluice Boxes State Park also offers a unique hiking experience that travels through the Little Belt’s mining history through Belt Creek Canyon.
Once a busy rail line moving ore to local smelters, today the rail bed is the trail that wanders the full length of the 8-mile canyon.
Many of the hiking trails within the Lewis and Clark National Forest are open to mountain biking, making this a great place to get some miles on some great single track.
The area also has plenty of Forest Service Roads and old logging roads that have become popular with mountain bikers.
Showdown Ski area also offers some great opportunities to enjoy the slopes during the summer. Passes for the chair lifts can be purchased in the summer for those that prefer the speed of the downhill without the extra peddling to reach the top.
Numerous small creeks wind through the Little Belt Mountains in the area of Neihart. This makes the area a great place to try your hand at fly-fishing these little creeks. Creeks in the Little Belt Mountains are home to a variety of Montana’s native trout species.
These crisp clean waters are ideal for trout and with a little patience, you can hook a beautiful fish.
If you are hoping to fish in the Neihart area or in any part of Montana, you will need a valid Montana fishing license.
Fishing licenses and information on fishing regulations can be found on the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks website.
Just down the road from Neihart, you’ll find Showdown Ski Area. This small but fun downhill ski area offers visitors a more relaxed skiing experience than you’ll find in larger resort areas. With three lifts and around 30 runs, this ski area is perfect for all levels of skiers.
If your speed is a bit slower, many of the trails in the national forest, as well as the old logging roads are open for cross-country skiing. You’ll also find great cross-country skiing and snowshoeing opportunities at King’s Hill/Silver Crest Winter Recreation Area.
Snowmobiling is a very popular recreational activity throughout Montana so it’s no surprise that it is quite popular near Neihart as well. There are plenty of roads and trails that are accessible to snowmobiles in the winter.
Snowmobiles can be rented at Kings Hill Pass if you’d like to enjoy the sport but don’t have your own equipment.
Accommodations in Neihart, Montana
With only 30 people in Neihart, lodging is limited. You’ll find that there are many rental cabins in the area, or you can find additional lodging options in Great Falls.
Since Neihart is so small there aren’t any community events that you’ll enjoy when passing through.
Most of the community will travel to larger communities to enjoy events, fairs, farmers’ markets, and other community opportunities.
- March – Boreal Challenge Race