The Lionhead area straddles the Continental Divide in the Henry’s Mountains outside of West Yellowstone. The trails here are like no others in our region—they are difficult and remote, offering stunning views, mountain breezes, a kaleidoscope of wildflowers, alpine lakes with emerald and turquoise waters, vibrant streams, and a hard-earned solitude. The Lionhead is almost entirely public land with approximately 30,000 acres in Montana and 20,000 acres in Idaho. The Montana portion is in the Custer-Gallatin National Forest. We are dealing with the Montana side in this plan revision, but it also affects trails that cross the border. Trails that dead end at a state boundary are no fun.
In 2006, bikers began an organized effort to maintain the Lionhead trail system. After meeting with the officials from the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, cyclists were asked to improve the 14 switchbacks in an area known as Candyland on the north flank of Targhee Peak (10,000 feet), about ten miles from the nearest trailhead. Mules and horses loaded with equipment ascended Mile Creek where they were met by bikers from Montana and Idaho. A multi-day effort resulted in thousands of pounds of rocks being stacked to create and reinforce natural retaining walls, and mitigate erosion from the extreme alpine weather.
Thousands of hours of sweat equity have been invested since that time to maintain the trails. Although mountain bikers are good trail stewards, treat the land with the utmost respect and appreciate the remote, wild nature of Lionhead, we can’t expect to keep our bike access without putting in more hard work. Mountain bike access is threatened by alternatives in the forest plan revision that would remove bikes from some or all of the Montana side, but an alternative is also offered which would protect our access.
What You Should Do
Advocate for continued mountain bike access to the Lionhead in your comment.
Lionhead managed as Backcountry Area (BCA)