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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 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.
This trail is a gateway to the Great American Rail-Trail, a nearly 4,000 mile developing trail that will connect the country from Washington, D.C., to Washington state. Gateway trails represent those iconic trails that make possible the Great American Rail-Trail in each of the states it connects. Learn more at www.greatamericanrailtrail.org
Parking is available at the western tip of the trail. From US 287, turn onto State Route 2. After a half mile, turn left (just after you cross the Jefferson River); the turn will be marked with a "Droulliard Fishing Access" sign. The access road will terminate in an unpaved parking area where the trail begins.
On the eastern end of the trail, parking and restrooms are available in Missouri Headwaters State Park (1585 Trident Road).
We spent a day exploring the trails in this system, riding out to the Headwaters park, through the pond area, and along the edge of town and back. The area is stunningly beautiful, the town is full of friendly people (be sure to stop for lunch and pie at the Iron Horse in Three Forks!), and we could not have asked for a more beautiful day of riding. There are several good maps along the trail, but a few more would be helpful, especially since it's not just one trail but several that link up. We're giving this 5 stars because the scenery is so gorgeous, but the trail surface deserves a 3 or 4; some sections are smooth asphalt but some have bone-jarring cracks that need to be filled. Still-- we absolutely loved our day on this trail and can't believe we didn't see more people using it. We came to Three Forks specifically to ride this trail system, and we were not disappointed.
nice trail, needs some TLC, they have the biggest cracks and bumps marked for repair. Friendly town and people, worth the stop,
For a trail with so much potential, this fell far short of expectations. Passes through beautiful scenery between a riverfront State Park, and cute little town.
Has not been given the attention it deserves. Asphalt surface cracked with painful gullies and erosions, NO signage. We rode back on a road with light traffic, but no shoulder and 70 mph speed limit to avoid having to ride this surface again.
This trail is a segment of the Great American Rail-Trail (GART).
Location: Three Forks, MT
Trail Condition: Average pavement. Some segments great and others overdue maintenance (vegetation overgrowth, and cracked asphalt).
Signage: No directional, some warning.
Comments: This is a trail “system” with multiple spurs and routes available. Overall this one is worth a stop to ride. Crosses river, goes along ponds (pelicans in the water), into the country, and through this quiet town. Will want to take a map along. A portion of the trail continues to the east instead of the left turn to the state park.
I parked downtown on main street, then rode to both ends of the paved trails and got 20 miles. That would include a few blocks of riding on residential streets, but impossible to get lost as it is a small town. Trails are flat and smooth. Three Forks has a couple of historic hotels and several restaurants.
Very nice trail but very noisy because trails runs parallel to I-90 so lots of car and truck noise. Lots of history in Headwaters State Park.
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.
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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