Another successful 4th on St. Mary's

St. Mary’s Peak is a moderately strenuous climb, just a short 3.5ish miles to rewarding views into the Selway Bitterroot Wilderness at 9,351’. It is one of the most accessible peaks in the Bitterroot, therefore making it a very popular trail. However, if you’ve done this hike before you may know that the trailhead fills up quickly and if you happen to bring horses, there is rarely a spot to park a trailer. In order to provide access for horse users, the Forest Service, partnered with the Montana Conservation Corps (MCC), designed and implemented a new trail about 2 years ago that tied in to a pre-existing “old” trail that adds provides parking for stock trailers at the trailhead. The trail that was constructed by an MCC youth crew was designed with grade reversals and winding switchbacks. However, the old trail, which we don’t know too much about, simply climbs straight up hill, with a few switchbacks, but without any consideration of erosion prevention. So, with the help of 3SBFC interns and 5 volunteers, we spent 2 days building 16 waterbars and placing them in areas where water needed to be drained off of the trail. We were fortunate enough to have assistance from Bitterroot National Forest trails foreman, Steve Bull. After completing the waterbars we moved on to general maintenance on the main trail, cleaning drains and replacing the broken Wilderness sign post. With a lovely, sunny, lunch at the summit, I’d say it was a successful volunteer trip! Thank you to all of our wonderful volunteers for the hard work and fun. Special thanks to Renee & Jay for going above and beyond while hosting us!