Magpie Gulch

Total Miles


2,112.09 ft


1 Hours

Technical Rating



Best Time

Spring, Summer, Fall

Trail Overview

This 8-mile track in the Helena National Forest, east of Canyon Ferry Lake, connects Magpie Ridge Trail to the Magpie Creek to Avalanche Creek Trail. You get up to 6900 feet near Hunters Gulch. The scenery is spectacular, both of the valley and of Canyon Ferry Lake; the forest is healthy and well-maintained, and deer, elk, moose and bears all call this forest home.

Photos of Magpie Gulch

Magpie Gulch
Magpie Gulch
Magpie Gulch


Early spring you may find snow and/or mud, or after a heavy rain, it will be muddy, but otherwise an easy trail.


This section of the Helena National Forest is 133K acres. The many settlers' cabins that still stand in this area are a testament to the sturdy, resilient people who came west in the 1800s. Canyon Ferry Lake is a man-made reservoir, built to generate electricity, provide irrigation, and help control flooding. It is Montana's third-largest body of water. The original ferry hauled the stagecoach and residents across the river. The toll was 25 cents for a horse and 50 cents for a team. The ferry was anchored by cables that were strung across the Missouri River. A dam was built in 1896 by the Missouri River Power Company, which made the river below the dam too rough for the ferry, so it was abandoned. Canyon Ferry residents then had to cross the river upstream in rowboats until the first county bridge was built in 1899.

Technical Rating


Status Reports

Mar O
Apr 19, 2024
2017 Toyota Tacoma
Deep Snow
Most of trail dry with ruts and some mud but very passible. Upper portions some snow and one large pile of snow obstructing road. It still is April in MT afterall. Should be clear and open soon all the way to Avalanche and back to Canyon Ferry Road. Already a nice drive, fairly easy drive.

Access Description

Take Canyon Ferry Road to Magpie Gulch Road. Go east on Magpie Gulch to this trail. Another option is to take Canyon Ferry Road to Avalanche Gulch Road, go east on Avalanche to where it intersects with Magpie, and take a left there.

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