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Double Falls, Lewis and Clark County

Heading into the great Lewis and Clark National Forest for a few days? Lucky you!

Surrounded by creeks and perched within hiking distance of numerous waterfalls and trails, Double Falls offers a beautiful site and campground on the eastern edge of the national forest and Bob Marshall Wilderness Area.

This central Montana gem is just one of many fantastic routes throughout Lewis and Clark County, one of the nine original counties within greater Montana established in 1865.

Although originally considered Blackfeet and Salish territory, Double Falls is now managed by the forest service, sitting along the lush banks of Ford Creek and offering its own first-come, first-serve campsites.

While there are only four available sites, anyone can visit their accompanying falls just a few hundred yards above the primitive camping sites.

Since the falls are heavily forested, their shade provides respite from summertime heat and cool waters to dip your toes into.

 

Visiting Double Falls

Located within the greater Augusta area, we highly recommend visiting Double Falls at the tail end of June so that you can split your time between primitive camping and the American Legion Rodeo, an entertaining one-day rodeo that engages much of central Montana to its base.

But if you’re anything like us and the mountains are constantly calling, you can take faith knowing that Double Falls and its surrounding trails, falls, and campgrounds will get you back to your own internal center.

Let’s read on for more on our favorite hiking, camping, swimming, fishing, and horseback riding spots in the area – there are more than enough to go around. Yeehaw!

Double Falls, Lewis and Clark County Stats

lewis and clark county stats

  • Size and Scope: Elevation 5322 feet
  • Season: Year Round
  • Hours: 24/7
  • Number of Campsites: 4
  • Wheelchair Accessible: No

Recreational Activities

recreational activities

We love hiking, biking, swimming, fishing, and horseback riding as much as the next Montanans, but there’s something really special about this magical area at the foot of the Lewis and Clark National Forest.

Between the lakes and reservoirs to swim and fish at and the numerous trails to hike or trot around, Double Falls and its surrounding area offer a pause, some peace, and even better trout. What’s not to love?

Hiking & Biking

You surely won’t have an issue finding a great place to explore around here! Double Falls is a delight of its own, but we like to venture further north to Willow Creek Falls Trailhead and the South Fork Sun Trailhead.

We also really love the Mortimer Gulch Trailhead to the north, which offers incredibly scenic views and grounds to picnic at. To the south, you’ll hit the Smith Creek Trailhead and the Elk Creek Trailhead, so you’ll really have no shortage of places to adventure around.

For biking, we highly recommend the Falls Creek area, as well as anywhere along Benchmark Road. If your bike all the way to August, we recommend refilling your calorie tank with burgers and cold beers at the local hangout, Buckhorn Bar. It’s got great food and some of the friendliest locals you can find at the gateway to the national forest.

Swimming & Fishing

Can you swim in Double Falls? Sure, feel free to dip your toes in the cool water after a summertime hike up the trails, but we recommend going all in at the nearby Wood Lake up Benchmark Road.

Just grab those kayaks, canoes, or stand-up paddle boards from your vehicle and launch them into this refreshing lake!

Fishing is also a popular sport at Wood Lake, due to its bountiful rainbow trout, west slope cutthroat trout, and white sucker. And given that these are clean Montana waters, we highly suggest making a trout dinner back at your site!

While we love the nearby Mills Wilderness Adventures for their epic horseback rides through the backcountry and hunting trips, they’ve also got a great fly fishing option along the White River. This is a small family business we want to continue to support!

Trailing even further west, we highly recommend floating in the Danaher River, although you’ll want to keep your eyes out for nearby beavers sharing the space! Other swimming and fishing spots to the east include the beautiful Nilan Reservoir and the Shoco Ranch. Enjoy!

Camping & Lodging

Looking for the most convenient campsite? The Double Falls Campground is your safest bet, offering four unique first-come, first-serve campsites right near the falls. But we’ll be honest – this is truly primitive camping with neither water access nor accessibility options, so it’s best for those who live simply.

The good news is that there are plenty of options in the surrounding areas if you’re interested in camping, a cabin rental, or a hotel.

Heading north up Benchmark Road, you’ll find Wood Lake Campground offering nine campsites to its lucky visitors. Situated on two acres of land next to the aforementioned Wood Lake, this campground is one click up from the Double Falls location, providing drinking water and restrooms for its adventuring travelers.

Fishing and swimming are top priorities at Wood Lake, with an easily accessible boat ramp and an affordable nightly rate.

Ah, and be mindful that Wood Lake prohibits motor boats, but as we stated above, it’s great for all non-motor water activities.

Even further up the road, you’ll hit a goldmine of excess campgrounds, from Benchmark to South Fork to Straight Creek. We like them all, but Wood Lake hits the spot with its close proximity, water activities, and bathroom.

Speaking of Benchmark Campground, we love the neighboring Benchmark Wilderness Guest Ranch. If you’ve come to the area for some backcountry fishing in the Danaher and need a more stationary glamping spot than a tent or camper, this guest ranch is a great option.

And while hotels are hard to come by within this section of the national forest, we do have a few accommodations in mind that have served us well in the past.

Check out the Sun Canyon Lodge about 45 minutes up the road for comfortable cabins, horseback rides, delicious BBQ options, and an optional boat tour, or head further east for a cozy stay at the Wagons West Motel in beautiful Augusta.

But our favorite spot is the JJJ Wilderness Ranch, whose kind owners, restful accommodations, and adventurous spirit make it an easy first choice for anyone visiting Double Falls.

devils glen - dearborn 206 trail
Image: David J Laporte

Trail Routes

 

Devil’s Glen – Dearborn 206 Trail

Length: 6.1 miles: Sure, the name is a bit off-putting, but we’re starting you off with Devil’s Glen because it’s appropriate for all trail and hiking experience levels.

If you have kids on your trek or are looking for something a bit easier on the old stems, start with Devil’s Glen, which crosses a beautiful and refreshing creek along the way.

We recommend coming here in the fall and taking pictures at the bridge, right as the leaves are changing colors. Magnifico!

Willow Creek Falls Trail

Length: 4.9 miles Next up: Willow Creek Falls Trail. We mentioned it briefly in our Hiking & Biking section, but here’s the secret to this 4.9-mile out-and-back trail: comfortable shoes.

Along a few sections of this gorgeous hike, you may come across some loose rocks, making hiking shoes or steadying Chacos an obvious choice.

As you get to the top, you’ll find some great views of the valley, made even better by the water along the trail on the way up – perfect for dipping your toes in or keeping your dog hydrated.

If you see some friendly cattle along the way, just wave to them as you pass!

South Fork Sun Trail #202

Length: 13.3 miles Head even further northeast and you’ll get to a plethora of hiking options, one of our favorites being the always uplifting South Fork Sun Trail #202.

Either keep the kids entertained for this one or bring some extra snacks because it’s quite a bit longer than the Double Falls trail – but doable!

Don’t be surprised if you come across a few horseback riders along this popular trail, since it maintains a relatively flat and stable surface. But South Fork Sun is one of our favorites due to its excellent wildlife viewing, from eagles to moose to elk and beyond.

Looking for even more of a challenge? Check out the nearby Sun River West Fork trailhead to get your heart racing even faster!

Crown Mountain Trail

Length: 8.8 miles Wanting to travel into the Scapegoat Wilderness? Well, hold your horses, because this last trek is a doozy. With an elevation gain of over 3,000 feet, you may need to take a few breaks along the way.

But views are worth it: the north face of Crown Mountain runs alongside you the whole way through, and as you reach the top, the views get even more picturesque.

Truly, it’s like a Montana postcard! But no matter where you hike, bike, swim, fish, or camp, Double Falls and its surrounding area offer a wild Big Sky Country adventure that’ll keep you coming back for more after every trek.

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