Boulder River Natural Bridge and Falls Trail In Montana

Here is everything you need to know about the Boulder River Natural Bridge and Falls Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Montana
  • Length: 0.8 miles.
  • Type: Hiking
  • Surface: dirt
  • Managed By: Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC)
  • Permit Required?: No
  • Website:

The Boulder River Natural Bridge and Falls Trail is located in the beautiful state of Montana, USA. This trail holds a significant historical value, as it was once an important route for Native American tribes who inhabited the region. The indigenous people used this trail to navigate through the rugged terrain, accessing the abundant resources and trading with neighboring tribes.

During the 19th century, European settlers began to explore and settle in the area. The Boulder River Natural Bridge and Falls Trail became a crucial transportation route for these pioneers, as it provided a passage through the otherwise challenging landscape. The trail facilitated the movement of people, livestock, and supplies, enabling the growth of nearby settlements and the development of trade networks.

In addition to its practical uses, the Boulder River Natural Bridge and Falls Trail also played a role in the region’s recreational activities. As early as the late 1800s, visitors were drawn to the natural beauty of the area, including the stunning waterfalls and the unique natural bridge formed by the river. These attractions became popular destinations for tourists, who would embark on the trail to witness the awe-inspiring sights and enjoy the tranquility of the surrounding wilderness.

Today, the Boulder River Natural Bridge and Falls Trail continues to be a cherished historical landmark, preserving the legacy of the Native American tribes and the early settlers who traversed its path. It stands as a testament to the rich history and natural wonders of the region, inviting visitors to explore and appreciate the historical significance of this remarkable trail.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Boulder River Trailhead: This is the main access point for the Boulder River Natural Bridge and Falls Trail. It is located at the end of Boulder River Road, off Highway 530, near Arlington, Washington.

2. Boulder River Campground: This campground is located along the Boulder River Trail and serves as a popular starting point for hikers. It offers parking facilities and restrooms.

3. Boulder River Bridge: This is a bridge that crosses the Boulder River and marks the beginning of the Boulder River Natural Bridge and Falls Trail. It is accessible from the Boulder River Campground.

4. Boulder River Natural Bridge: This is a unique natural rock formation that spans the Boulder River. It is a major highlight of the trail and can be reached by following the trail from the Boulder River Bridge.

5. Boulder River Falls: This is a series of beautiful waterfalls along the Boulder River. The falls can be reached by continuing on the trail past the natural bridge.

6. Boulder River Wilderness: The Boulder River Natural Bridge and Falls Trail is located within the Boulder River Wilderness, which offers a pristine and remote natural environment. The trail provides access to the wilderness area and its scenic beauty.

Please note that trail conditions and access points may vary, so it is always recommended to check with local authorities or trail guides for the most up-to-date information before planning a hike.

Transportation Available

1. Boulder River Shuttle – Shuttle service providing transportation to and from Boulder River Natural Bridge and Falls Trail.
2. Boulder River Taxi – Taxi service available for transportation to Boulder River Natural Bridge and Falls Trail.
3. Boulder River Rides – Ride-sharing service offering convenient transportation options to Boulder River Natural Bridge and Falls Trail.
4. Boulder River Bicycles – Bicycle rental service for exploring Boulder River Natural Bridge and Falls Trail.
5. Boulder River Tours – Guided tour service providing transportation and informative tours of Boulder River Natural Bridge and Falls Trail.


The amenities available at the Boulder River Natural Bridge and Falls Trail may include:

1. Restrooms: There may be restroom facilities available at the trailhead or along the trail.

2. Parking: There might be designated parking areas for visitors to park their vehicles.

3. Camping sites: Depending on the regulations and policies of the trail, there may be designated camping sites available for overnight stays.

4. Picnic areas: There could be designated picnic areas along the trail where visitors can enjoy a meal or snack.

5. Trail markers/signs: The trail may have markers or signs to guide hikers and provide information about the trail.

6. Information boards: There might be information boards at the trailhead or along the trail, providing details about the natural features, wildlife, or history of the area.

7. Benches or seating areas: There could be benches or seating areas along the trail for visitors to rest and enjoy the surroundings.

8. Trash bins: There may be trash bins or waste disposal facilities available to maintain cleanliness along the trail.

9. Interpretive displays: The trail might have interpretive displays or educational materials to provide information about the natural and cultural significance of the area.

It is important to note that the availability of these amenities may vary, and it is recommended to check with local authorities or visitor centers for the most up-to-date information before visiting the Boulder River Natural Bridge and Falls Trail.

Nearby Services

1. Boulder River Lodge – A cozy lodge offering comfortable accommodations near the trail.
2. Boulder River Campground – A scenic campground with tent and RV sites, located close to the trailhead.
3. Boulder River Cabin – A rustic cabin rental option nestled in the wilderness near the trail.
4. Boulder River Trailhead Picnic Area – A convenient spot for a picnic before or after your hike.
5. Boulder River Falls – A stunning waterfall along the trail, providing a picturesque view.
6. Boulder River Natural Bridge – A unique natural bridge formation that spans across the river, offering a beautiful sight.
7. Boulder River Trail – A well-maintained trail that follows the river, providing a pleasant hiking experience.
8. Boulder River Wilderness – A designated wilderness area surrounding the trail, offering a serene and untouched natural environment.
9. Boulder River Fishing Access – A spot for fishing enthusiasts to enjoy the river’s abundant trout population.
10. Boulder River Trailhead Parking – Ample parking available for trail visitors, ensuring easy access to the trailhead.
11. Boulder River Ranger Station – A nearby ranger station providing information and assistance for trail visitors.
12. Boulder River Emergency Services – Local emergency services available in case of any unforeseen incidents or emergencies.

Boulder River Natural Bridge and Falls Trail Difficulty Notes

The Boulder River Natural Bridge and Falls Trail offers a moderate difficulty level for hikers. The trail spans approximately 8 miles round trip and features a variety of terrains, including rocky sections, steep inclines, and uneven surfaces. Hikers should be prepared for some challenging sections that require careful footing and endurance. However, the trail is well-maintained and offers beautiful views of the river, lush forests, and the impressive natural bridge and falls. With proper preparation and hiking experience, this trail can be a rewarding adventure for those seeking a moderate challenge.

Features And Attractions

The Boulder River Natural Bridge and Falls Trail offers a variety of scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks. Here are some notable attractions along the trail:

1. Boulder River: The trail follows the beautiful Boulder River, offering scenic views of the flowing water and surrounding forested areas.

2. Boulder River Falls: The highlight of the trail is the Boulder River Falls, a stunning waterfall cascading down a series of rocky steps. It is a popular spot for photography and relaxation.

3. Natural Bridge: The trail also leads to the Boulder River Natural Bridge, a unique geological formation where the river flows through a natural arch created by eroded rock. It is a fascinating sight to behold.

4. Old Growth Forest: As you hike along the trail, you will pass through sections of old-growth forest, with towering trees and lush vegetation. This provides a serene and peaceful atmosphere.

5. Wildlife: The Boulder River Natural Bridge and Falls Trail is home to various wildlife species. Keep an eye out for deer, elk, birds, and other animals that inhabit the area.

6. Historical Sites: While not directly on the trail, there are historical sites nearby worth exploring. For example, the ghost town of Monte Cristo, an old mining town, is located in the vicinity and can be visited as a side trip.

7. Scenic Overlooks: Along the trail, there are several scenic overlooks that offer panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, valleys, and the Boulder River itself. These viewpoints provide excellent photo opportunities.

8. Wildflowers: During the spring and summer months, the trail is adorned with a variety of wildflowers, adding vibrant colors to the landscape.

9. Rock Formations: Throughout the trail, you may come across interesting rock formations, including cliffs, boulders, and outcroppings. These geological features add to the natural beauty of the area.

10. Picnic Areas: There are designated picnic areas along the trail where you can take a break, enjoy a meal, and soak in the peaceful surroundings.

Remember to check local regulations and trail conditions before visiting, as some attractions may have specific rules or restrictions.

Usage Guidelines

– No pets allowed on the trail
– No camping or overnight stays
– No swimming or wading in the river
– No littering or leaving trash behind
– No hunting or fishing
– No motorized vehicles or bicycles allowed on the trail
– No rock climbing or rappelling
– No fires or open flames
– No alcohol or drugs allowed
– No picking or damaging plants or wildlife
– No feeding or approaching wildlife
– No amplified music or excessive noise
– No drones or remote-controlled devices
– No graffiti or defacing natural features
– No off-trail hiking or exploring
– No disturbing or removing rocks or natural formations
– No commercial or organized group activities without prior permission
– Follow all posted signs and instructions from park rangers or officials.

Seasonal Information

The Boulder River Natural Bridge and Falls Trail is a stunning natural attraction located in the beautiful state of Montana. This trail offers visitors a chance to witness the breathtaking beauty of the Boulder River as it cascades over a natural bridge and forms a magnificent waterfall. While this trail is open year-round, there are certain times of the year that are considered the best for visiting.

One of the best times to visit the Boulder River Natural Bridge and Falls Trail is during the spring and early summer months. During this time, the snowmelt from the surrounding mountains creates a powerful flow of water, resulting in a spectacular display of the waterfall. The lush greenery and blooming wildflowers add to the scenic beauty of the trail, making it a perfect time for nature enthusiasts and photographers to capture the essence of this natural wonder.

However, it’s important to note that the trail may have seasonal closures during the winter months. Montana experiences heavy snowfall, and the trail can become inaccessible due to snow accumulation and dangerous conditions. It is advisable to check with local authorities or the trail’s official website for any closures or restrictions before planning a visit during the winter season.

In conclusion, the best times to visit the Boulder River Natural Bridge and Falls Trail are during the spring and early summer when the waterfall is at its most impressive and the surrounding landscape is vibrant and alive. However, it’s crucial to stay informed about any seasonal closures, particularly during the winter months when the trail may be inaccessible due to heavy snowfall. Regardless of the time of year, this trail promises a memorable experience for nature lovers and those seeking to immerse themselves in the beauty of Montana’s wilderness.


1. Wheelchair Accessibility: The Boulder River Natural Bridge and Falls Trail offers limited wheelchair accessibility, with a paved path leading to a viewpoint overlooking the natural bridge.
2. Accessible Parking: Designated accessible parking spaces are available near the trailhead, providing convenient access for individuals with disabilities.
3. Restrooms: Accessible restrooms are located near the trailhead, ensuring that visitors with disabilities have convenient facilities.
4. Trail Surface: The trail surface is mostly compacted dirt and gravel, which may pose challenges for wheelchair users or individuals with mobility impairments.
5. Trail Length: The trail is approximately 2.5 miles long, making it a moderate-length hike that may require additional assistance or breaks for individuals with mobility limitations.
6. Viewing Platform: A viewing platform near the natural bridge offers an accessible spot for visitors to enjoy the scenic beauty of the falls and surrounding area.
7. Benches: Several benches are strategically placed along the trail, providing resting spots for individuals who may need to take breaks during their hike.
8. Signage: Clear and visible signage is present along the trail, ensuring that individuals with visual impairments can navigate the area safely.
9. Assistance Animals: Service animals are permitted on the trail, allowing individuals with disabilities to have the necessary support during their visit.
10. Accessibility Information: The Boulder River Natural Bridge and Falls Trail provides detailed accessibility information on their website, helping visitors plan their trip and understand the available accommodations.

Safety Information

1. Trail Difficulty: Moderate – The trail is moderately challenging, with some steep sections and uneven terrain.
2. Proper Footwear: Wear sturdy hiking boots or shoes with good traction to navigate the rocky and sometimes slippery trail.
3. Trail Length: 3.5 miles round trip – The trail is approximately 1.75 miles each way, making it a 3.5-mile round trip.
4. Trail Markers: Follow the clearly marked trail with signs and arrows to avoid getting lost or straying off the designated path.
5. Weather Awareness: Check the weather forecast before heading out and be prepared for sudden changes in weather conditions.
6. Water Safety: Stay away from the river’s edge and be cautious around the water, as the current can be strong and dangerous.
7. Wildlife Encounter: Be aware of your surroundings and respect the wildlife by keeping a safe distance and not feeding or approaching them.
8. Sun Protection: Apply sunscreen, wear a hat, and bring sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays.
9. Pack Essentials: Carry water, snacks, a first aid kit, and a map of the trail to ensure you are prepared for any situation.
10. Leave No Trace: Practice Leave No Trace principles by packing out all trash, staying on the trail, and respecting the natural environment.

Conservation Notes

The Boulder River Natural Bridge and Falls Trail is considered to be in a relatively stable conservation status. The trail is located within the Boulder River Wilderness, which is managed by the United States Forest Service. The area is designated as a protected wilderness, ensuring that it remains largely untouched by human development and preserving its natural state.

The conservation efforts for the Boulder River Natural Bridge and Falls Trail primarily focus on maintaining the ecological integrity of the surrounding ecosystem. This includes protecting the diverse plant and animal species that inhabit the area, as well as preserving the natural processes that shape the landscape. The trail is carefully maintained to minimize human impact and prevent erosion, ensuring that visitors can enjoy the area while minimizing their ecological footprint.

Additionally, the Boulder River Natural Bridge and Falls Trail is subject to regulations that aim to preserve the area’s natural beauty and cultural significance. These regulations restrict activities such as camping, hunting, and motorized vehicles to protect the delicate balance of the ecosystem. The conservation status of the trail is regularly monitored and managed to ensure that it remains a pristine and ecologically valuable destination for future generations to enjoy.

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