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Branham Peaks/Bridge Canyon Loop Trail

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  • Southwest Montana
  • National Forest Trail
An excellent hike with breathtaking views. Branham Peaks/Bridge Canyon Loop Trail (15 and 610) is a short, steep hike. A breathtaking view awaits the traveler after the climb to the ridge northwest of the campground. Branham Peak, Bradley Peak, and Lady of the Lakes Peak rise majestically to the northeast. Bell Lake shines to the north. Low alpine wildflowers cover this windswept ridge where rock wrens, chipping sparrows, warbling vireos, Clark's nutcrackers, and the Swainson's thrush with its haunting, abound. Look for goats on the rocky peaks above the lakes. The hike as described here ends at the ridgetop from which you return to Branham Lakes Campground. If you wish a longer hike the trail continues on down into South Indian Creek. The trail beyond the ridgetop is less used and it is harder to stay on the marked route. About 3 miles from the trailhead is Thompson Reservoir, a large lake with one area across the dam on the opposite side of the lake from the trail suitable for camping. Past Thompson Reservoir the trail leaves the alpine terrain and ambles alternately through timber and meadows as it climbs to the ridge between Mill Creek and South Indian Creek. On the Mill Creek side of the ridge, the trail passes through a whitebark pine graveyard, a whole stand of trees that died long ago from insects and disease. Young Douglas firs poke up between the many old gray skeletons. Descending the ridge, you catch glimpses pf vast lodgepole pine stands, the Gravelly Ranger to the south, and the Ruby Range to the southwest. Elk commonly wander down to Quartz Creek. From the trailhead across the dam of Upper Branham Lake, the trail climbs steeply to the ridge northwest of the campground. You attain the highest point of the trip (9,800 feet) here. The trail then turns west and drops into the South Fork of Indian Creek. When the trail hits the road, turn right and follow the road for about 200 yards. Watch for a blaze on a whitebark pine about 20 yards off the road to the left. The trail is not well defined along this ridge, but there are blazes on scattered pine, and once you leave the meadow and enter the timber, the trail becomes well defined again. The trail ends where it intersects the Mill Creek Road, just above the rider's cabin for the Tobacco Root Stock Association. Length: 2 miles round trip. Moderate difficulty. Trail Begins: Branham Lakes Campground Trail Ends: Branham Lakes Campground USGS Map: Potosi Peak, Noble Peak, Copper Mountain
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Location
Sheridan
Phone
406-682-4253
Mailing Address
Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest
5 Forest Service Road
Ennis, MT 59729
Season
July - September
Special direction map

Follow Montana Route 287 west from Ennis to Sheridan. At Sheridan, turn right onto the Mill Creek Road and follow it to the Forest Boundary. Proceed 8 miles to Branham Lakes Campground. The Mill Creek Road is rough and slow, but accessible to 2-wheel drive vehicles. The trail begins just outside of the campground and across the dam of Upper Branham Lake.