Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sluice Boxes stroll

Jim Heckel readies for a dip

The remains of a substantial mining operation 
Lots of back and forth crossing of Belt Creek
No Great Falls summer is complete without walking through the Sluice Boxes State Park.
This gem is located in a limestone canyon Little Belt Mountains just 32 miles south and east of Great Falls.
Most folks walk in and out, opting to fish from the beginning off the Riceville Road turnoff or jump from high cliffs into emerald pools of water about 2 miles in, or fish from the Logging Creek Road entrance.
Sunday a group of five of us walked through the 8 miles, enjoying spectacular scenery and an occasional thigh-deep crossing or dip in Belt Creek.
The water was a little higher than usual and the grass a little greener for mid-August because we’ve had so much rain.
Jim Heckel went for a couple of dips.
It was too chilly for me.
On the Logging Creek end a few head of cattle had been let in to graze. I wish this weren’t allowed. There are so few place accessible and so otherwise wild in the Great Falls area that I don’t like it.
We stopped to rummage around a former mining camp where there are standing limestone smelter stacks, old rail trackage, houses, root cellars and chicken coops.
It is a fun find to view such antiquities.
The full hike takes about 5 leisurely hours.

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