Garnet Ghost Town

Total Miles
7.0

Elevation

1896.02 ft

Duration

Hours

Technical Rating

2

Easy

Best Time

fall, summer, spring

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Trail Overview

This very potholed and deeply washboard trail leads from the beginning of the dirt section to Montana's best-preserved Ghost Town, Garnet. This site features some of the best-kept historical buildings of its kind. The trail ends at the parking area, and a three-dollar fee per person is well worth it for entry. There are many great picnic spots to choose from, a freshwater spigot, and lots to explore in the town itself. There are pit toilets, too. It's a beautiful place to explore and hang around and have lunch. If you have the time, there are quite a few hikes in the area from 1-3 hours each that seem well worth the time. There are two bars of LTE service that fade in and out with none at the ghost town.

Difficulty

Easy

History

There was a time, a hundred years ago, when Garnet was a thriving town filled with gold miners and their families--working hard to carve out a community in the heart of the Garnet Mountains. In 1898, somewhere around 1,000 people called Garnet their home. Garnet is open year-round, daily from 9:30am-4:30pm. However, access is limited in the winter. Wheeled vehicles are allowed on the road from May 1 through December 15, depending on snow conditions. Please note that visitors in the spring and fall may want/need to park in the designated parking lots and ski or snowmobile to the town instead of driving on snow-bound roads. In winter, Garnet is only accessible by snowmobile and cross-country ski trip. $3 a person over 16 years of age. The BLM uses entrance fees to help protect, preserve and interpret Garnet Ghost Town or use your America the beautiful Membership Card for free entry. Montana's most intact ghost town wasn't built to last. Enterprising miners were more interested in extracting the riches below ground than building above. As a result, buildings grew quickly, most lacking foundations. They were small and easy to heat. Yet, a century after Garnet emerged, remnants of the town stand, hidden high in the Garnet Mountain Range east of Missoula. Garnet was named for the semi-precious ruby-colored stone found in the area and was an excellent place to live. The surrounding mountains were rich in gold-bearing quartz. There was a school, the crime rate was low, and liquor flowed freely in the town's many saloons. The bawdy houses did a brisk business, and Missoula and Deer Lodge were close enough for necessary supplies. The complete history can be found at: http://www.garnetghosttown.org/

Technical Rating

2

Access Description

FROM MONTANA ROUTE 200 Turn south at the Garnet Range Road located between mile markers 22 and 23, about 30 miles east of Missoula. Follow the Range Road for approximately 11 miles to Garnet, where the parking area is located. Follow signs. FROM INTERSTATE 90 Take either Drummond or Bearmouth exit. Then follow the North side frontage road to Bear Gulch Road. Watch for the sign, located 10 miles west of Drummond or 5 miles east of Bearmouth exit. Approximately 7.5 miles up Bear Gulch Road is the Cave Gulch Road Junction. From here, Garnet and the parking lot are 4 miles up Cave Gulch. NOTE: RV, motorhomes, and pull trailers are NOT recommended to travel this route. The last 9 miles of dirt roads are mountain terrain that is steep, narrow, and winding. In most places, the roads are one lane and can be rough. Expect to drive slow.