Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Snowshoeing Lazyman Roadless Area

At the beginning of our hike we ran out of snow and it was off and on with snowshoes

Pretty typical scenery along the trail

A view of Red Mountain through trees and blow down

The bright red line to left was our route
If nothing else, the Montana Wilderness Association has succeeded in introducing folks to otherwise obscure federal roadless lands in national forests that could be considered for wilderness with its Wilderness Walks and Snowshoe Hikes programs.
It's particularly important as the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest is preparing its forest-wide plan that could stand as a management document for decades.
Although I had lived in Helena for eight years in the 1970s I didn't do much hiking and skiing in the area between the old mining camp of Rimini and McDonald Pass.
Until Sunday I hadn't been in the Rimini Area for about 35 years.
An MWA Snowshoe Walk into the Lazyman Roadless Area east and south of Rimini introduced me to that area.
We took a trail that started at the old Moose Creek ranger station, now a forest cabin rental.  The trail leads to the top of Colorado Mountain (7,217 feet) and offers access to Black Mountain (7,149 feet) and a loop along the Lazyman Ridge.
Our group of a dozen snowshoers, led by Doug and Sonia Powell of Helena, only went up a couple of miles and 1,200 feet in questionable and crusty snow, but it gave us a fine overview of this 11,608 acres roadless area that's only a few miles from a densely populated Helena.  It is also in the shadow of the large Red Mountain near Rimini.  Doug pointed out various access points and trails into the area and the adjacent Jericho Roadless Area across the road near the Moose Creek Campground/Picnic Area.
The Jericho area, 8,440 acres climbs north to McDonald Pass.
Unfortunately, the Forest Service is not recommending either of these areas for wilderness.
The Lazyman area is densely covered by timber, much of which has been killed by bark beetle and blown down.
Aside from great views of the Black Mountain area, unless you get off trail and high, the views are of this timbered trail.
It looks as though it gets high snowshoe use.
If there were sufficient snowfall it would be very skiable, too.
The Helena Lewis and Clark National Forest is taking comment on its plan through March 31.

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