On the trail

Quint Gidley, right, and Dave Benes bring equipment down the lower section of Maud S Canyon on Friday after crews expanded the trail, and tied it into the Continental Divide trail that runs along the top of the East Ridge.

One of the most popular trails in Butte has been expanded, lengthened and connected to give bikers and hikers excellent loop possibilities just minutes from town.

The Maud S Canyon trail, located northeast of the Interstate 90 Continental Drive exit, previously ran about two miles up the East Ridge to a saddle that overlooked Butte.

But Friday the Forest Service finished an expansion that takes it another 1.5 miles to join the Continental Divide Trail, which runs north from Homestake Pass.

Also added is a spur that takes hikers to within a quarter mile of Our Lady of the Rockies statue. That trail dead ends at this time, but the Forest Service has plans to extend it north to Elk Park — and eventually all the way to Lincoln as part of the greater Continental Divide Trail. The latter theoretically runs the spine of the country from the Mexican border to Canada. More than half of the Montana section of that trail remains unfinished, however.

The Forest Service contracted with Ted Wood, president of Wildwood Trails in Bozeman, to create the expanded Maud S Canyon trail. His crews have been at the site since April, blasting boulders and carving through heavy timber.

“It was difficult, challenging work,” he said Friday. “Heavy rock, lots of drilling and blasting.”

His crews brought equipment down off the hill Friday and opened the trail to the public Saturday. He did, however, caution mountain bikers by noting the new ground will be soft and sandy until it settles with the help of rain and foot traffic.

Wood said “flow” is the key to good trail design. He said the new upper section of the Maud S Canyon trail jumps back and forth on the ridge, offering views overlooking Butte and also secluded sections that look toward east of the ridge.

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The area boasts aspen groves, deer and other wildlife, and a good amount of water in Maud S Creek that will come in handy for dogs walking with their owners, he said.

If you go

To access the Maud S Canyon trailhead in Butte, take Interstate 90 east, and exit at the Continental Drive interchange. Turn east, or left, proceed over the overpass, then turn left on the Saddle Rock Road (the frontage road) and proceed less than a mile. Look for Maud S Canyon signage and the parking lot on the right side of the road.

To access the Continental Divide Trail north trailhead from Homestake Pass, take Interstate 90 east and exit at the Homestake Interchange. Turn left at the stop sign, and proceed over the overpass. Within one-half mile about, you’ll see the huge parking lot with a latrine off the right side of the road. You can park there. The hiking-biking trailhead is located just over the railroad tracks, on the left, or west side of the road. It’s about 13 miles to get to the Maud S Canyon trailhead.

Reporter Tim Trainor may be reached via e-mail at tim.trainor@lee.net or phone at 496-5519. Or Twitter.com/Tim_Trainor

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