Milwaukee Road Rail-Trail (Thompson Park)

Montana

Milwaukee Road Rail-Trail (Thompson Park) Facts

States: Montana
Counties: Silver Bow
Length: 4.1 miles
Trail end points: Pipestone Pass at SR 2 and Janney Rd.
Trail surfaces: Grass, Gravel, Sand
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 7984925
Trail activities: Bike, Walking, Cross Country Skiing

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Milwaukee Road Rail-Trail (Thompson Park) Description

Just a few miles south of Butte, the Milwaukee Road Rail-Trail through Thompson Park offers a fun, four-mile ride through two tunnels and across a trestle on the former Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad. Bring your mountain bike, headlamp and taillights for the adventure.

This section of railroad was one of the first in the country to be electrified; Thomas Edison even came out to Butte to ride the Milwaukee Road. The relics of this past are highlights of the trail. One of the tunnels is 550-feet long, while the other is 1,110 feet. The trestle is a stunner, too, at 600-feet long and rising 130 feet above the valley floor. The trail ends just 100 yards from the 2,300-foot long Pipestone Pass tunnel, which is closed to the public, but you can walk up to its entrance.

If you wish to stay longer, the park offers a network of 25 miles of non-motorized trails for hiking, horseback riding or mountain biking.

Parking and Trail Access

Take State Route 2 south of Butte for approximately nine miles. After passing Continental Drive, look for a "Recreation Area" sign and turn right onto a dirt road. Climb to the summit at Sagebrush Flats. The northernmost access to the trail can be reached from the Sagebrush Flats parking area via a trail that says "Milwaukee Road 800 feet."

To access the southernmost end of the trail, continue driving up SR 2 through multiple tight switchbacks to the summit of Pipestone Pass. Park at the top of the pass in a large pullout with a Thompson Park sign. Note that the Milwaukee Road Rail-Trail is not accessed by the trail at this pullout, but instead is reached by walking around the green metal gate in a smaller pullout about 100 yards north along the highway. This spur trail is soft sand and steep but leads quickly down to the Milwaukee Road Rail-Trail.              

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