We needed fresh air. We needed space. and, quite frankly, we needed to get out of the house!!
While the 'shelter in place' order has kept us mostly inside, we are grateful that it made exceptions for being able to escape into our amazing Montana wilderness. And, how lucky are we, that only a 30 minute drive outside of Great Falls, we have access to beautiful country.
The Sluice Boxes State Park was established in 1970 and consists of the northern-most 8 miles of the Belt Creek canyon. When mining was king in Montana, railroad tracks snaked through the mountain ranges to reach small little boom towns, hauling ore to market. One railroad ran up Belt Creek and the abandoned railroad bed is now the main component and access route of Sluice Boxes State Park. For the safety and well-being of the general public who access this amazing state park, the train bridges have been removed, a sad thing for the more nostalgic & adventurous of us.
There are 2 main access points to the Sluice boxes, the lower and the upper trails. The lower trail proves slightly simpler and easier to navigate as it follow the bottom of the canyon, but comes to a point where the hiker must ford the creek to continue - a difficult proposition during high water flows. It is always advisable to take caution while adventuring in Montana at any time, and notable to know when low-water season is - generally mid-July through September.
The upper trail is a little bit more difficult. Since we decided to venture out in early spring, it was also very muddy! But, the ice wall, the crystal clear water, and time in this beautiful park more than made up for the dirt. The spring-fed water is always cold and weather in the Little Belts can change often and quickly. Always be prepared!
We already have some plans to head back again later in the season. Maybe next time, we'll take our fishing poles for some trout fishing in Belt Creek.