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10 Days Hiking and Horseback Riding in Montana, USA

USA Hiking and Horseback Riding

7 Lazy P Outfitting offers a trip where you will cross the Continental Divide two times as you move into the north country of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Experience some amazing places including Gateway Gorge and Big River Meadows. The North Continental Divide trip is great for those who are looking for extra horseback riding. This area of the Bob Marshall Wilderness doesn’t see a lot of people and particularly, late August is a nice time of year to be in the backcountry. Soak up your surroundings on this quiet trip through astounding scenery!

Key Information

  • Rider Weight Limit: 220 pounds / 100 kilograms

Highlights

  • 6 horseback riding days
  • Approximate daily riding time: 5 hours
  • Services and assistance of a five-person crew
  • Daily fresh and homemade breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Use of all gears and equipment
  • Roundtrip airport transfers
  • 9 nights’ accommodation

8 days with instruction in English
Spoken languages: English
The maximum participants in the group is 10
Airport transfer included: Great Falls International Airport
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Accommodation

7 Lazy P Outfitting Guest Ranch

The night before your trip leaves, you will spend the night at the historic 7 Lazy P guest ranch in a quaint cabin. It has five guest cabins of various configurations to accommodate singles, couples, families, or small groups of friends. Settle in, relax, and meet the stock! Your evening will include a homestyle meal in the lodge while getting to know the crew.

Following dinner, discussions about the final details of your trip will take place in the lodge. This is the time to ask last minute questions as you retire to your cabin to finish preparing your gear and for a good night’s rest. In the morning, the packers will be readying the stock and gear.

After breakfast, you will meet your horse, be fitted to a saddle, the crew will finish packing and loading the mules and then you’re on the trail to magnificent destinations! The reverse will happen the night you come out from your trip; unpacking, showers, dinner, visiting, a good night’s rest, all of these are included in the price of your trip.

Camp

The camp will consist of a large kitchen fly with a complete kitchen to prepare incredible meals. Guests are provided with high-quality tents that comfortably sleep two adults. Single guests may be issued slightly smaller tents.

Once instructed on proper tent set-up, guests are encouraged to select their own location and set up their own tents. This is a good activity for guests while the crew is busy setting up the kitchen, getting wood and water, and tending to the stock. If anyone needs assistance crew members are always there to help. There will be camp stools available. A latrine tent is set up at each campsite and the opportunity for a shower is available on layover days.

Setting up and taking down the camp and putting the whole thing on the backs of mules is an incredible task that is handled efficiently by the experienced crew. It is important for guests to be ready on moving days so as not to delay the process. Layover days are for relaxing and having a leisurely breakfast.

On moving days breakfast will be from 7 until 7:30 a.m. There is a lot to do and it is always good to have extra time at the end of the day rather than to be late and run into trouble. Cooperation is expected and required on these days.

Program

The Bob Marshall Wilderness

The Bob Marshall Wilderness area is referred simply as “The Bob” by locals. The preserved wilderness complex covers over one million acres in Central Montana. Did you know that it’s the most completely preserved mountainous ecosystem in the lower 48 states? The U.S. Forest Service manages and protects the Bob Marshall Wilderness area.

The Bob Marshall Wilderness area lies within the Flathead National Forest and Lewis and Clark National Forest. The roadless and motorless backcountry follows the Continental Divide for 60 miles with elevations ranging from 4,000 to 9,000 feet.

  • What To Expect

These wilderness areas and heights can only be accessed by foot or horseback. However, once inside, you are surrounded by pristine old-growth forests, river valleys, rugged peaks, alpine lakes, waterfalls, and grassy meadows. The Bob is home to large grizzly bears, moose, elk, black bears, mountain goats, wolves, and bighorn sheep. You will be in awe of bald eagle, osprey, pelican, grouse, ptarmigan, and trumpeter swan sightings.

Be ready to unplug as your senses come alive and connect with the vast array of nature’s pure awesomeness. Summer is the best time to explore the Bob Marshall Wilderness area. Professional and experienced outfitters offer multi-day pack trips from July through September that can take you along the trails and off the beaten path.

  • Chinese Wall Pack Trips

The Chinese Wall is the most popular and recognized destination in the Bob Marshall Wilderness area. The striking wall formation stretches for 22 miles through the wilderness on the western boundary of the Sun River Game Preserve. This is a definite bucket list pack trip for any backcountry horseback riding, hiking, fishing, or nature enthusiasts.

You can easily access the Chinese Wall from the South Fork, along with the well-traveled Holland Lake-Benchmark Trail. Make sure to plan your trip accordingly, since camping is strictly prohibited along the fragile Cliff and Salt mountains. During your journey, be sure to enjoy the sights and sounds along the Salmon Lake.

  • Peaks To Peaks

Towering peaks stand tall and run at great lengths through the Bob. In particular, on the western boundary, Holland Peak is a spectacular 9,356-foot giant that can be reached during a short day hike. Then, to the northern Great Northern Mountain summit towers at 8,705 feet and can be achieved by an off-trail 8-mile round trip hike. Finally, to the south Scapegoat Mountain is the most prominent jewel of the southern complex area.

  • Who’s Bob?

Bob Marshall was a forester and conservationist. His vision was to protect parts of the Central Montana area as a wilderness designation. Not too long after his death in 1940, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture designated 950,000 acres as wilderness. The Wilderness Act was passed in 1964 by the U.S. Congress, in which the Bob Marshall Wilderness area received wilderness protection. Today, the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex includes the Scapegoat Wilderness, Great Bear Wilderness, and the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Thanks Bob!

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival - August 7, 2019

Arrive at the 7 Lazy P Guest Ranch, spend the night there and be ready for the trip commencement on the next day.

Day 2: Start of the trip - August 8, 2019

  • Riding time and distance: 4.5 hours to 5 hours (13 miles)

Depart 7 Lazy P Guest Ranch as you ride up the Middle Fork of the Teton and over 7,200-foot Route Creek Pass into the North Fork Sun River drainage. You'll descend down into the valley to the camp on Wrangle Creek.

Day 3: Layover day - August 9, 2019

Enjoy the nearby Sun River or take a hike. There is a hike for any level from short and easy to more challenging, like a climb up Wapati Ridge or an all-day hike to the top of the Wrong Ridge. The views are incredible! Crew members are always available to accompany guests to the river or on any of the hikes. Guests are also free to go on their own if they choose.

Day 4: Moving day - August 10, 2019

  • Riding time and distance: 3.5 hours (10 miles)

You will move today to the head of the Sun River drainage and over the Continental Divide at Sun River Pass and then down a short distance to the camp at Basin Creek. You are now at the headwaters of the Middle Fork of the Flathead River.

Day 5: Moving day - August 11, 2019

  • Riding time and distance: 4 hours (11 miles)

Moving again downstream along Bowl Creek and the Middle Fork of the Flathead. You will stop for a break at the Forest Service guard cabin at Goose Berry Park and then end the day at the camp on the little drainage of Switchback Creek.

Day 6: Moving day - August 12, 2019

  • Riding time and distance: At least 6 hours (15 miles)

Guests may visit the nearby river or take a hike in virtually any direction and any exertion level. The highlight and most popular activity on this layover day is the Trilobite Lake loop ride. This is an all day ride up Clack Creek, and up to the high elevation alpine country of the Trilobite Range. This is a spectacular ride with Mt. Pentagon, Trilobite Peak, and lakes as the focal points.

Day 7: Moving day - August 13, 2019

  • Riding time and distance: 5 hours (13 miles)

This time, you will backtrack a few miles upriver past the cabin and then north up Strawberry Creek to Gateway Creek. You will ride through the steep and deep Gateway Gorge on your way to Big River Meadows. This is one of the favorite campsites of all 7 Lazy P's trips. This large meadow lies directly below the Continental Divide, it offers fantastic open views and the stock grazing in the distance.

Day 8: Layover day - August 14, 2019

Once again, there are some great hikes for those so inclined. Ascend Big Horn Mountain or up the ridge of the Continental Divide. There is also a day ride offered to Crystal Ridge. This shorter ride takes you up to some great 360-degree views and numerous crystal formations lying on the ground surface.

Day 9: Moving day - August 15, 2019

  • Riding time and distance: 6 hours (18 miles)

You will leave Big River Meadows, as you ride over the Continental Divide through the low saddle of Gateway Pass and into the South Fork Birch Creek drainage. A short distance down this trail, you'll turn south and head up to Crazy Creek and head back up in elevation along the Continental Divide. This is a very spectacular ride in some country that does not see many people.

Travel beneath Mt. Patrick Gass and across the alpine basin of Nanny Creek. Still following the Continental Divide, you will see remnants of an old World War II vintage plane along Corrugate Ridge and keep your eye out for mountain goats, which are often seen in this region. You will descend down to Bruce Creek to your destination at the West Fork Teton trailhead, where you'll be met by the crew from the lodge. The stock is turned out here to graze and you will take a short vehicle ride down to the lodge.

Day 10: Departure - August 16, 2019

Depart 7 Lazy P Guest Ranch mid-morning.

When To Arrive

All dates given on trip itineraries are for the actual trip departure and return dates. You will need to arrive at the 7 Lazy P Guest Ranch no later than the afternoon prior to the date of your trip departure. Guests should plan to leave the lodge mid-morning the day after your trip. In other words, an 8-day pack trip will require a 10-day time commitment so you will need to make your travel arrangements accordingly.

Trip Capacity

The trips can take a maximum of 10 guests. Each trip typically has a five-person crew: two packers with the mule strings, a wilderness chef, the trip leader who rides with the guests, and a “5th wheel” who will often ride with the guests and help out wherever needed in camp and on the trail. 7 Lazy P may reduce the size of the crew on trips with very few guests.

Moving Days

On moving days, 7 Lazy P often have the riders traveling independently of the pack strings to reduce congestion on the trail and allow that portion of the crew to reach a campsite ahead of the guests to begin set up. They try and get on the trail by 9:30 to 10 a.m. You will stop for a short break prior to lunch and then stop for about a 30-minute lunch break, then usually one more quick stop in the afternoon prior to reaching the campsite.

It is always good to get into a campsite by about 3:30 p.m., so depending on the mileage and time required, your guide will manage travel accordingly. When you arrive at a campsite, the crew will assist guests in securing their horse. They will have you remove any clothing and the horn bags from your saddle. Guests may need to be patient as the crew works to transform neatly packed mule loads into an accommodating camp. This is a good time to just relax for a minute, everything will be ready shortly.

Backcountry Camping

7 Lazy P's exceptional string of mules carries all the gear for your trip. Your crew will almost magically assemble a complete camp from piles of gear. You will find quality tents, camp chairs, a custom kitchen, and good equipment. 7 Lazy P takes pride in every aspect of their operation and feels that the details are what make a successful trip, whether caring for the guests, the stock, or the equipment.

Location

7 Lazy P Outfitting is a premier guest ranch near Choteau, Montana. It's located about 27 miles west of town and in the heart of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. 7 Lazy P is unique because it is the only pack station in the Bob Marshall Complex located directly on a trailhead. You can find it along the beautiful Teton River in the Lewis and Clark National Forest. The premier guest ranch near Choteau has been in continuous operation since 1931. It's the only guest ranch in Montana located right on a trailhead; it's in the heart of the Rocky Mountain Front.

Food

All meals are included in this trip. You can expect delightful, western cuisine for your backcountry fare. The cooks turn out fresh, homemade meals, featuring 7 Lazy P's very own grass-fed beef. Bring your own wine, beer, or liquor for an added evening refreshment. You will have plenty of time for conversation and relaxing around an evening campfire. Most of the trip itineraries spend two nights in each camp so there is a layover day to enjoy hiking or just reading a book and taking a nap.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

The following dietary requirement(s) are served and/or catered for:

  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
If you have special dietary requirements it's a good idea to communicate it to the organiser when making a reservation

What's included

  • 6 horseback riding days
  • 9 nights accommodation
  • Use of all gears
  • Services and assistance of a five-person crew
  • Daily meals
  • Roundtrip airport transfers

How to get there

Recommended Airports

Arrival by airplane

The closest air service is Great Falls International Airport (GTF) which is about 80 miles from the guest ranch. 7 Lazy P provides a complimentary airport shuttle. They may ask guests to be patient and flexible as often times there is more than one person or group arriving at different times throughout the day and it helps if they can make just one airport pick-up.

Airport: Great Falls International Airport Airport transfer included: Great Falls International Airport No additional charges. You can request this in the next step.

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 30% of the total price.
  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid on arrival.
10 days / 9 nights
from --

Availability

Arrival: Wednesday August 7, 2019
Departure: Friday August 16, 2019

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