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Two motorcyclist on the highway

Scenic southwestern Montana
Photo courtesy Montana Office of Tourism.

“Mill Creek” Route

Locals call it “Mill Creek”

(Editor’s note: This piece was originally composed after an early-season ride. It was run again in the late season and the author found the surface significantly improved. However, we have decided to let the original version stand as written since it represents a worst case scenario which riders may expect to encounter.)

Locals call this splendorous and divergent little route “Mill Creek.” It is, more factually, Montana Secondary Hwy. 569.

Be warned, this one is rough.

This can be ridden by any type of machine, but hopefully it ain’t no hardtail you’ll be astride. More appropriately, an adventure-tourer or even super-moto would handle the task with more finesse; right, something with plenty of suspension travel. We have often taken the 650 lb. sport-tourer – much more suited to well built highways – over this piece, but always take it easy and keep eyes well ahead scoping for broken pavement and rim-crunching potholes.

Well, maybe it’s not all that bad, but I can think of only a very remote few that are worse. Regardless, the shortcomings of the tarmac are easily compensated by the trail’s remoteness and thus lack of traffic, and its scenic beauty. Besides, it connects the I-90 corridor to a couple of very special and highly rural, ride-able Montana valleys filled with big elks herds, moose, bear and deer, not to mention lions, lynx, wolves and, some say, wolverines, too.

Let’s traverse this 22 miles, then, from I-90 to Mill Creek’s outlet, into the Big Hole Valley and onto Hwy. 43 just northwest of Wise River.

By Cole Boehler
the author and publisher of
"Motorcycling Montana"