SEELEY LAKE, MT. – Heavy rains at the beginning of the week resulted in increased runoff and a trail washout in the Monture Drainage on the Seeley Lake Ranger District. Monture Trail #27 is currently impassable to stock at approximately 4.3 miles up the trail at the Yellowjacket drainage due to increased flows and debris movement caused by recent storms. It is recommended that day-riders use the flat trail section before Bill Creek as a turn-around point prior to reaching the blind corner and Yellowjacket drainage. The section of trail over the Yellowjacket drainage is narrow and located on a steep, exposed mountainside, and although the area is still passable by foot, hazards exist like boulders and woody debris. Backpackers should exercise caution.
Alternate stock routes for accessing the Bob Marshall Wilderness include Pyramid Pass Trail #416, Lodgepole Creek Trail #13, Hobnail Tom Trail #32, and Dry Fork Trail #31. At this time, riders, stock and hikers are still able to access Falls Creek Trail #16 via the Monture Trailhead.
“We are unable to pinpoint any large, single-source of sediment load so far,” said Quinn Carver, District Ranger. “Although the creeks in the Monture drainage are intermittently running cloudy and likely contributing to the recent discoloration of the Blackfoot, we don’t believe it is the sole source of the discoloration. We are asking that folks remain vigilant as they enter the backcountry and burned areas during hunting season, especially ahead of or right after weather events.”
The Monture drainage is situated within the 2017 Rice Ridge Fire burned area and the Yellowjacket drainage specifically experienced moderate to high soil burned severity during the fire creating conditions susceptible to this type of event. The Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) analysis, which was conducted after the fire, anticipated natural debris flow events for this area. Debris flow events occur when a high-intensity convective storm cell releases high volumes of precipitation in a very short duration over burned landscapes. The public can expect this type of event to occur in the future after intense storms pass over the area.
Crews will head into the site as early as Monday of next week to work on the Monture Trail and try and make it passable to stock again, this effort will likely take several days to accomplish. For more information on trails conditions on the Seeley Lake Ranger District please contact 406-677-2233.