Blacktail – Wild Bill Trail In Montana

Here is everything you need to know about the Blacktail – Wild Bill Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Montana
  • Length: 12.5 miles.
  • Type: Hiking
  • Surface: dirt
  • Managed By: U.S. Forest Service
  • Permit Required?: Yes
  • Website: Info not available.

The Blacktail – Wild Bill Trail holds a significant place in the history of the American West. This trail, located in the Blacktail Mountains of Montana, was named after the legendary Wild Bill Hickok, a renowned figure of the Wild West era. The trail gained its name due to the belief that Wild Bill Hickok had once traversed this rugged terrain during his travels in the late 1800s.

During the late 19th century, the Blacktail Mountains were a hub of activity, attracting miners, trappers, and pioneers seeking their fortunes in the untamed wilderness. The Blacktail – Wild Bill Trail served as a vital transportation route, connecting remote settlements and mining camps in the region. It provided a lifeline for the local communities, enabling the transportation of essential supplies, mail, and news.

The trail was not only a means of transportation but also played a role in the region’s history of conflict. The Blacktail Mountains were known for their lawlessness, attracting outlaws and renegades. It is said that Wild Bill Hickok himself may have used this trail to evade capture or pursue his own brand of justice. The trail became a symbol of the untamed and adventurous spirit of the American West, embodying the challenges and dangers faced by those who ventured into this rugged landscape.

Today, the Blacktail – Wild Bill Trail stands as a testament to the rich history of the American West. It serves as a reminder of the pioneers, outlaws, and adventurers who once roamed these lands. The trail offers visitors a chance to step back in time and experience the untamed beauty and historical significance of the Blacktail Mountains.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Blacktail Mountain Ski Area: This is the starting point for the Blacktail – Wild Bill Trail. It is located near Lakeside, Montana, and offers parking facilities and amenities.

2. Blacktail Mountain Road: This road intersects with the trail and provides access to the trailhead. It is a gravel road that leads to the trailhead parking area.

3. Wild Bill Trailhead: This is the official trailhead for the Blacktail – Wild Bill Trail. It is located at the end of Blacktail Mountain Road and offers parking facilities and trail information.

4. Blacktail Mountain Overlook: This is a scenic viewpoint along the trail that offers panoramic views of Flathead Lake and the surrounding mountains. It is a popular spot for hikers to take a break and enjoy the scenery.

5. Wild Bill Mountain: This is the highest point along the trail and offers stunning views of the surrounding area. It is a challenging climb but rewards hikers with breathtaking vistas.

6. Blacktail Mountain Summit: This is the summit of Blacktail Mountain and marks the end of the Blacktail – Wild Bill Trail. From here, hikers can either retrace their steps back to the trailhead or continue on other trails in the area.

Note: The Blacktail – Wild Bill Trail is a 7.5-mile loop trail, so hikers can start and end at any of the access points mentioned above.

Transportation Available

1. Blacktail Mountain Shuttle – Shuttle service providing transportation to and from Blacktail Mountain.
2. Wild Bill’s Taxi – Taxi service offering convenient transportation in the area.
3. Glacier Park International Airport – Nearby airport providing domestic and international flights.
4. Whitefish Amtrak Station – Train station offering rail transportation options.
5. Flathead Valley Transit – Public bus service serving the Flathead Valley region.
6. Glacier National Park Shuttle – Shuttle service providing transportation within Glacier National Park.
7. Car rental agencies – Various car rental companies offering rental services for independent transportation.


The amenities available at the Blacktail – Wild Bill Trail may vary, but here are some common amenities you might find:

1. Restrooms: There may be restroom facilities available at the trailhead or along the trail. These could be portable toilets or permanent restroom buildings.

2. Parking: There should be designated parking areas for visitors to park their vehicles while using the trail. These parking lots may have limited or ample space depending on the popularity of the trail.

3. Camping Sites: Some trails, especially those in national parks or designated camping areas, may have camping sites available nearby. These sites could be primitive or equipped with amenities such as fire pits, picnic tables, and access to water.

4. Picnic Areas: Along the trail or at the trailhead, there might be designated picnic areas where visitors can relax, have a meal, or enjoy the scenery. These areas may have picnic tables, benches, or shelters.

5. Interpretive Signs: The trail might have interpretive signs or panels that provide information about the natural or historical features of the area. These signs can enhance the educational experience for visitors.

6. Trail Markers: To ensure visitors stay on the designated trail, there may be trail markers or signs indicating the correct path to follow. These markers can be helpful in preventing hikers from getting lost.

7. Information Boards: At the trailhead or along the trail, there might be information boards that provide details about the trail, safety guidelines, and any specific regulations or restrictions.

8. Waste Receptacles: To maintain cleanliness, there may be waste receptacles or trash bins available at the trailhead or at regular intervals along the trail. Visitors are encouraged to dispose of their waste properly.

9. Water Stations: Depending on the length and difficulty of the trail, there might be water stations or fountains available for visitors to refill their water bottles. It is always advisable to carry enough water for the hike.

10. Benches or Seating Areas: Along the trail, there may be benches or seating areas where visitors can take a break, rest, or simply enjoy the surroundings.

It is important to note that the availability of these amenities can vary, so it is recommended to check with the local park or trail management for specific details about the Blacktail – Wild Bill Trail.

Nearby Services

1. Blacktail Mountain Lodge – A cozy lodge offering comfortable accommodations near the Blacktail – Wild Bill Trail.
2. Wild Bill’s Diner – A popular diner serving delicious comfort food, conveniently located near the trail.
3. Blacktail Mountain Campground – A scenic campground with tent and RV sites, perfect for outdoor enthusiasts exploring the Blacktail – Wild Bill Trail.
4. Blacktail Mountain Resort – A ski resort offering lodging options, dining, and emergency services for visitors near the trail.
5. Blacktail Grocery Store – A nearby grocery store providing essential supplies for hikers and campers on the Blacktail – Wild Bill Trail.
6. Lakeside Medical Clinic – A medical clinic offering emergency services and healthcare facilities in the nearby town of Lakeside.

Blacktail – Wild Bill Trail Difficulty Notes

The Blacktail – Wild Bill Trail is known for its challenging difficulty level, making it a thrilling adventure for experienced hikers. With steep inclines, rocky terrain, and narrow paths, this trail demands physical endurance and agility. Hikers must navigate through dense forests and encounter occasional obstacles, such as fallen trees and loose rocks. The trail’s elevation changes and unpredictable weather conditions further add to the difficulty, requiring hikers to be well-prepared and equipped with proper gear. Despite its challenges, the Blacktail – Wild Bill Trail offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes, making it a rewarding and unforgettable experience for those seeking a thrilling outdoor adventure.

Features And Attractions

The Blacktail – Wild Bill Trail offers a variety of scenic views, historical sites, natural landmarks, and more. Here are some notable attractions along the trail:

1. Blacktail Plateau: This vast plateau offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, valleys, and forests.

2. Wild Bill Lake: A picturesque alpine lake nestled in the mountains, perfect for fishing, picnicking, or simply enjoying the serene beauty of the area.

3. Blacktail Creek: A meandering creek that runs alongside the trail, providing a peaceful and soothing atmosphere.

4. Historic Homesteads: Along the trail, you may come across remnants of old homesteads, offering a glimpse into the area’s history and the lives of early settlers.

5. Wildlife Viewing: The Blacktail – Wild Bill Trail is known for its abundant wildlife. Keep an eye out for deer, elk, moose, bears, and various bird species.

6. Wildflower Meadows: During the spring and summer months, the trail is adorned with vibrant wildflowers, creating a colorful and picturesque landscape.

7. Blacktail Ponds: These small ponds are home to a variety of aquatic life and provide a tranquil spot for birdwatching or simply enjoying the peaceful surroundings.

8. Historical Significance: The trail passes through areas that were once important to Native American tribes and played a role in the region’s history. Look out for informational signs that provide insights into the area’s cultural significance.

9. Scenic Overlooks: The trail offers several viewpoints where you can pause and take in breathtaking vistas of the surrounding mountains, valleys, and forests.

10. Natural Landmarks: The Blacktail – Wild Bill Trail is surrounded by natural landmarks such as towering cliffs, rock formations, and unique geological features that add to the trail’s scenic beauty.

Remember to check local regulations and obtain any necessary permits before exploring the trail.

Usage Guidelines

1. Pets are allowed on the Blacktail – Wild Bill Trail but must be kept on a leash at all times.
2. Visitors are required to clean up after their pets and dispose of waste properly.
3. The trail is open year-round, but certain sections may have seasonal restrictions or closures due to weather conditions or maintenance work.
4. Camping or overnight stays are not permitted on the trail.
5. Bicycles and motorized vehicles are not allowed on the trail.
6. Hiking and walking are the primary activities allowed on the trail. No other recreational activities, such as hunting or fishing, are permitted.
7. Visitors are encouraged to stay on designated trails and not venture off into restricted areas.
8. Littering is strictly prohibited. Visitors are expected to carry out any trash they bring in.
9. Open fires or campfires are not allowed on the trail. Smoking may be restricted in certain areas due to fire hazards.
10. Visitors are advised to bring their own water and snacks as there may not be any facilities or vending machines available on the trail.
11. It is recommended to check for any trail advisories or updates before visiting, as conditions may change.

Seasonal Information

The Blacktail – Wild Bill Trail is a popular hiking destination located in the Blacktail Mountain Range in Montana. This scenic trail offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, lush forests, and diverse wildlife. When planning a visit to the Blacktail – Wild Bill Trail, it is important to consider the best times of the year to visit and any seasonal closures that may affect your trip.

The best times to visit the Blacktail – Wild Bill Trail are during the summer and early fall months. From June to September, the weather is generally mild and pleasant, making it ideal for hiking. During this time, the trail is usually open and accessible, allowing visitors to fully enjoy the beauty of the area. The summer months also offer longer daylight hours, providing ample time to explore the trail and take in the stunning vistas.

It is important to note that the Blacktail – Wild Bill Trail may have seasonal closures during the winter months. Due to heavy snowfall and potentially hazardous conditions, the trail may be closed for safety reasons. It is advisable to check with local authorities or the trail management before planning a visit during the winter season. However, if you are an experienced winter hiker or snowshoer, the trail can offer a unique and serene experience during this time, with the snow-covered landscape creating a picturesque setting.

In conclusion, the best times to visit the Blacktail – Wild Bill Trail are during the summer and early fall when the weather is pleasant and the trail is open. However, it is important to be aware of any seasonal closures, particularly during the winter months when the trail may be inaccessible due to snow and hazardous conditions. Regardless of the season, the Blacktail – Wild Bill Trail promises a memorable hiking experience with its stunning scenery and abundant wildlife.


1. Wheelchair Accessibility: The Blacktail – Wild Bill Trail offers wheelchair accessibility, allowing individuals with mobility challenges to navigate the trail comfortably.
2. Paved Pathways: The trail features paved pathways, ensuring a smooth and accessible surface for wheelchair users.
3. Accessible Parking: The trail provides designated accessible parking spaces near the trailhead, allowing easy access for individuals with disabilities.
4. Restrooms: Accessible restrooms are available near the trailhead, equipped with features like grab bars and wider doorways to accommodate wheelchair users.
5. Signage: The trail features clear and visible signage with large fonts and contrasting colors, aiding individuals with visual impairments in navigating the trail.
6. Benches and Rest Areas: Along the trail, there are benches and rest areas strategically placed, providing opportunities for individuals to take breaks and rest if needed.
7. Assistance Animals: The Blacktail – Wild Bill Trail welcomes assistance animals, allowing individuals with disabilities to have their service animals accompany them on the trail.
8. Handrails and Guardrails: The trail incorporates handrails and guardrails in certain areas, ensuring safety and stability for individuals with mobility challenges.
9. Accessible Picnic Areas: The trail offers accessible picnic areas with tables at designated spots, allowing individuals to enjoy outdoor meals comfortably.
10. Accessible Viewing Points: The trail includes accessible viewing points, providing individuals with disabilities the opportunity to enjoy scenic vistas and wildlife sightings.

Safety Information

1. Trail Difficulty: The Blacktail – Wild Bill Trail is rated as a moderate difficulty trail, suitable for hikers with some experience.
2. Trail Length: The trail is approximately 6.5 miles long, offering a decent length hike.
3. Proper Footwear: It is recommended to wear sturdy hiking boots or shoes with good traction to navigate the varied terrain.
4. Weather Awareness: Check the weather forecast before starting the hike and be prepared for changing conditions, as the trail is exposed to the elements.
5. Water Availability: Carry an adequate supply of water, as there are limited water sources along the trail.
6. Sun Protection: Apply sunscreen, wear a hat, and bring sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun, as parts of the trail are not shaded.
7. Wildlife Encounter: Be aware of the potential for wildlife encounters, including bears, and follow proper safety guidelines if you encounter any animals.
8. Trail Markings: Pay attention to trail markers and signs to stay on the designated path, as the trail can be confusing at times.
9. Emergency Preparedness: Carry a first aid kit and know basic first aid procedures, as well as emergency contact information, in case of any injuries or emergencies.
10. Hiking in Groups: It is recommended to hike with a partner or in a group for safety and to have assistance if needed.
11. Leave No Trace: Practice Leave No Trace principles by packing out all trash and minimizing your impact on the environment.
12. Trail Conditions: Check for any trail closures or warnings before heading out, as conditions can change due to weather or maintenance work.
13. Time Management: Plan your hike according to daylight hours and allow enough time to complete the trail before it gets dark.
14. Physical Fitness: Ensure you are in good physical condition before attempting the trail, as it involves some elevation changes and uneven terrain.
15. Trail Etiquette: Be respectful of other hikers and yield to uphill hikers, as well as following any specific trail rules or regulations.

Conservation Notes

The Blacktail – Wild Bill Trail is a significant conservation area that plays a crucial role in preserving the natural habitat and biodiversity of the region. This trail is located in the heart of a protected area, ensuring the conservation of various plant and animal species that call this area home. The conservation status of the Blacktail – Wild Bill Trail is considered to be of high importance due to its unique ecological features and the presence of several threatened and endangered species.

One of the primary reasons for the conservation significance of this trail is the presence of rare and sensitive plant species. The area is known for its diverse flora, including several species that are endemic to the region. These plants are highly vulnerable to habitat destruction and disturbance, making their conservation a top priority. Efforts are being made to protect and restore their habitats, ensuring their survival for future generations.

Furthermore, the Blacktail – Wild Bill Trail is home to a variety of wildlife species, some of which are listed as threatened or endangered. These include the blacktail deer, which is a key indicator species for the health of the ecosystem. The conservation efforts for this trail focus on maintaining suitable habitat conditions, reducing human disturbances, and implementing measures to mitigate the impacts of invasive species. By safeguarding the habitat and protecting these species, the conservation status of the Blacktail – Wild Bill Trail is being actively managed to ensure the long-term survival of its unique biodiversity.

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