Headwaters Trail System

Montana

Headwaters Trail System Facts

States: Montana
Counties: Gallatin
Length: 8.1 miles
Trail end points: Missouri Headwaters State Park on Trident Rd. and Droulliard Fishing Access on SR 2
Trail surfaces: Asphalt
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6515705
Trail activities: Bike, Inline Skating, Wheelchair Accessible, Horseback Riding, Walking

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Headwaters Trail System Description

The Headwaters Trail System is a paved network of trails, portions of which run along the former Milwaukee Railroad corridor through the City of Three Forks to Missouri Headwaters State Park. As its name implies, the park contains the origin of the Missouri River, formed where the Jefferson, Madison and Gallatin rivers meet. Visitors can camp where Lewis and Clark stayed on their famous expedition in 1805 across the country.

The scenic trail provides stunning views of the surrounding mountains and grasslands, winds around ponds and through old growth cottonwood trees, and ends on the banks of the Jefferson River. In 2007, the system was selected as the Montana Trail of the Year by the state's Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Eventually, the trail will be extended to Manhattan, Montana, and other parts of the gorgeous Gallatin Valley.

Parking and Trail Access

Parking is available just off Interstate 90; take the Three Forks exit.

Headwaters Trail System Reviews

Love this ride..over 20 miles of paved trail through marshlands, streams, rivers ending at Headwaters state park. Lots of birds, moose, deer. All under the Big Sky!!

This trail is not well marked (if at all). The visitor center in Three Forks couldn’t give us definitive directions for connecting to the trail from downtown. We located it ourselves.

If you’d like to start the trail in downtown Three Forks, you’ll find the path located on 4th Avenue East and Oak Street behind the school. The path starts behind the field track and playground and will run adjacent to the golf course. The trail in town is a mixed bag. Sometimes it is narrow with tree roots growing onto the path.

The nicest part of the trail runs 4 miles north of town into Missouri Headwaters State Park. You can then cycle further on the lightly-traveled road to a picnic area and historical display before working your way back into town. The section we rode on was all paved. It is an easy ride and one I would recommend if you happen to be in Three Forks.

I rode this trail yesterday and was really impressed. For a small community, they have a great trail system. Beautiful views, lots of clean air. I rode in from the east and the trail ends up at the High School track, kinda awkward. The ride to Drouillard Boat Launch was great, as was the ride around the lakes near the golf course.

Accordion

Rode through the state park and into Three Forks. It's a combination of paved, gravel, and dirt trails. Not too demanding but some areas can be tough for an inexperienced rider. There's no problem with pushing a bike when you need to! Several historical markers in the park made the ride interesting. The trail to Three Forks was paved. Nice scenery. Heard the traffic but didn't have to deal with it. Wish I had time to explore the town. Maybe on the next trip.

Beautiful ride, follows highway but not ON highway; the trail winds through a city garden between 3-Forks and State Park. We went N to boat launch, past day-use area on Trident highway as the (?a) trail continues through SP but it is not paved.

We rode this recently, we did an out and back from the Headwaters State Park to the ponds in Three Forks, its an easy ride, flat and paved but fun for even the littlest ones including those riding pedal-less Skuut bikes (too far to do the whole length for my 2.5 year old but we were towing a Chariot as well) doesn't seem very crowded as we only saw a few other bikers on a Sunday afternoon in August. The views of the surrounding mountains and of the valley are very nice however the trail does run very close to I90 so you will hear it much of the time. If you plan on starting or finishing in the Headwaters State Park be careful, I cannot recommend the first/last mile of the trail (ending at the state campground) for kids or anyone not on a mountain bike or not good at technical riding. That first/last mile is not paved and is very loose deep sand and gravel, an accident waiting to happen. On our return segment I got on the road right where the trail turns to sand and left the family there to catch butterflies while I road the mile to get the car, there is one good safe parking spot to load bikes and passengers just off the road where the trail turns to sand.

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