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Crow Creek Falls, Montana

Crow Creek Falls is a waterfall tucked in the Elkhorn Mountains area in Jefferson County, Montana. It’s the largest waterfall in Helena National Forest, often described as the park’s crown jewel. Water from the falls flows into Crow Creek and through the Elkhorn Mountains.

Radersburg, a historic mining boom town, and Townsend in Broadwater County are located a few miles from the falls.

Crow Creek Falls Trail leads visitors to the lush Crow Creek Valley under a forested canopy. The path is rocky, but it allows one to enjoy the breathtaking views of the dense forest and mountains. Several mining areas near the falls have a rich history dating back to the 1800s.

Crow Creek is home to rainbow trout, brook, and brown trout. While trekking upstream toward the falls, visitors can spot different bird species from the surrounding coniferous forest.

The Crow Creek Valley and the river were once significant natural resources for the Crow People. They used the river as a source of freshwater and hunted in the valley. In the early 1920s, the area around Crow Creek Falls was not open to the public.

Before Lynn Mining purchased the falls’ area, Crow Creek Falls was part of the gold mining area known as Hawkeye Placer. After 100 years, Helena National Forest bought the entire Crow Creek Falls area to allow public access.

Gold mining activities attracted more miners to the Crow Creek area, leading to the growth of a boom town (Radersburg) a few miles from the falls.

Radersburg grew fast in the 1860s and 70s, thanks to the Crow Creek Valley’s rich gold mines and agricultural resources. By 1869, this mining boom town boasted 1,000 residents and was made the seat of Jefferson County.

Unfortunately, the drop in gold prices suppressed the growth of Radersburg. The town lost its title as the county seat of Jefferson in 1884.

crow creek falls, jefferson county
Image: Montanabw

How To Get to Crow Creek Falls Montana

Visitors from Townsend can access Crow Creek Falls Trail (Trail 109) by traveling south on Hwy 287. The journey from Townsend to Radersburg is 9 miles.

From Radersburg, Hwy 287 heads 13 miles to the Jenkins Gulch intersection. Trail 109 is about two miles from the Jenkins Gulch intersection via Hall Creek Road. On the right side at the Trail 109 sign is the Jump Off Trailhead, where visitors can park.

Crow Creek Falls Trail is a 5.5-mile out and back hike leading to the falls. Visitors can start hiking from the trailhead and descend toward Crow Creek. After trekking for about half a mile, there’s a small bridge for crossing the river. The trail continues upstream along the Creek through meadows and dense coniferous forests.

Visitors should expect several water crossings, but they shouldn’t worry about getting their feet wet with good hiking boots.

The trail leads to the falls. Visitors who wish to continue hiking can head to trail 112, leading them into the Elkhorn Mountains.

Attractions

Crow Creek Falls Trail

The Crow Creek Falls Trail is a popular hiking trail leading to Crow Creek Falls and the Elkhorn Mountains.

The trail offers great opportunities to explore the Crow Creek Valley, Crow Creek, and the historic gold mining areas. Camping, birdwatching, and trail running are some activities to enjoy in this area.

Anglers can catch rainbow trout, brook, and brown trout in Crow Creek. During summer, hikers can swim at a large pool at the base of Crow Creek Falls, Jefferson County. The best months for hiking toward the falls are May through October.

Elkhorn Mountains

elkhorn mountains
Image: Baker County Tourism Travel Baker County

The Elkhorn Mountains are accessible via trail 112 from Crow Creek Falls. The Mountains are part of the Rocky Mountains, Montana, about 300,000 acres in size.

Visiting the Elkhorn Mountains allows one to hike on the Elkhorn and Crow Peak Trail, that’s 6.1 miles toward the summits of Crow Peak and Elkhorn Peak. Another three miles hike along the Willard Creek Trail allows visitors to explore the dense forests and meadows.

Elkhorn Mountain is home to over 2,000 elk herds and mountain goats.

Crow Creek Campground

Crow Creek Campground is located along Crow Creek and accessible via the Crow Creek Falls Trail. It’s a peaceful and free campground ideal for visitors seeking solitude in the Crow Creek area.

Hikers exploring the Elkhorn Mountains and Crow Creek Falls can camp here for several days before heading to other attractions within the Helena National Park.

The campground has eight camping sites, each offering picnic tables, and metal fire rings. There’s also a vault toilet and access to clean water. Visitors who wish to camp here with pets must ensure they’re always on leashes.

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