Skip to main content
National Forest Trail Hanging Valley National Recreation Trail
Overview Service & Activities
Overview Service & Activities
About Located in the Big Belt Mountains, this National Scenic Trail is recommended for hikers who want a challenge. Hikers will want to take plenty of water on this hike. There is an elevation gain of approximately 1400 feet in elevation in the first 3 miles to trail junction #348. Then an additional 440 feet before the trail starts its descent to the scenic overlook. Stop to enjoy the distant views from the ridge. The ten switchbacks will take you down 1,000 feet to a moist valley of giant Douglas fir trees, between towering limestone cliffs. As you continue down, the valley narrows and there is a short spur trail to a lookout through a narrow crack in the cliffs. The main trail is soon between cliff walls less than ten feet apart and drops steeply. Climb under a low natural bridge and down two ladders to a small ledge. Here cliffs rise hundreds of feet on 3 sides of you and drop several hundred feet in front of you, with a truly spectacular view of a valley of lime stone cliffs and spires. Hanging Valley formed when the main river cut a lower bed or channel faster than a side stream leaving the side steam ‘hanging' high above it. There are different types of vegetation in this moist valley, including lichen, and the cliffs and spires as the valley widens. The views are even better as you return on the same trail. For a shorter by steeper trip, start this hike from Magpie Gulch. This will be approximately 10 miles round-trip. The trail starts higher up, so you will gain only 330 feet to the junction with Hanging Valley. Length: 12 miles (round-trip) Trail Begins: Vigilante Campground, Township 12N; Range 1E; Section 30 Quad(s): Hogback Mountain, Snedaker Basin Area Map: Helena National Forest Map
MAILING ADDRESS 2880 Skyway Drive
Helena, MT 59601
CONTACT 406-449-5490
FAX 406-449-5740
SPECIAL DIRECTIONS Take county road 280 (otherwise known as York Road) to York. Continue approximately 7 miles past York to Vigilante campground. Proceed to the back of the campground to access the trail; a sign shows where the trail begins in a heavily timbered draw at the northeast side of the campground. Another route to access the trail is through Magpie Gulch.
ACTIVITIES Bird Watching Hiking Nature Area Sightseeing Walking Wildlife Viewing

See what's nearby

Show All
Where To Stay
Things To Do
Food And Drink
Grid View
List View

4-R Ranch & Cattle Company

Working Ranch
Clancy, MT

7R Guest Ranch

Guest Ranch
Wolf Creek, MT

A.L. Swanson Craftsman Studios

Art Gallery
Helena, MT

Agee Outfitting

Helena, MT

Alamo/National Car Rental

Car Rental
Helena, MT

Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts

Art Gallery
Helena, MT

Avon Family Cafe

Family Restaurant
Avon, MT

Bar Gulch Cabin

National Forest Cabin

Bar Gulch Trail

National Forest Trail
Townsend, MT