The Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex

Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex
Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex

More than just the Bob Marshall Wilderness, this “complex” is made up of 3 federally designated wildernesses. They are – from north to south –

  • Great Bear Wilderness
  • Bob Marshall Wilderness
  • Scapegoat Wilderness

Together, it forms over 1.5 million acres of wilderness area. Straddling the continental divide, the mountains here still hold remnants of glaciers. Sharp walls and cliffs make for breathtaking hiking. Abutting Glacier National Park to the north, this is some of the wildest lands in the continental United States.

Trail Conditions In The Bob Marshall

Its reputation among Continental Divide Trail thru-hikers is based on fear of the unknown. Legends tell a tale of endless bushwhacking and wild grizzly bears running rampant. In reality, “The Bob” provides some of the most manicured and well-traveled backpacking trails in the country.

Equestrian friendly paths make up a large percentage of the trail system. Well established outfitters and plenty of ranger activity make this wilderness more of an extension of Glacier National Park than a separate area. Established signposts make getting around easy to do. The less than 2% grade required by horse packing equates into switchbacks and fast hiking.

Grizzly Bears In The Bob Marshall Wilderness

Home to some of the densest population of grizzly bears in America. Backpacking through this remote area requires basic knowledge of bear safety. Hanging bear bags every night and being aware of your surroundings will prevent run-ins. However, there is plenty of room for the bears to roam and the last thing they want to do is tangle with a human. If you keep a clean camp, bears are nothing to worry about.

The Chinese Wall In Montana

The Chinese wall in the Bob Marshall Wilderness is a limestone cliff that marks the Continental Divide. Stretching 1,000′ vertical feet, the hike takes packers along this impressive feature. A surprising and awe-inspiring feature that lies hidden within the remote wilderness of the Montana Rocky Mountains.

Fishing The Bob Marshall Wilderness

The fishing found within the Bob Marshall Wilderness is excellent, if you know where to go.

High Alpine Lakes

There are no stocking programs within the wilderness areas here. As such, the high alpine lakes have little to no fish in them. Historic stocking efforts mean there are pocket populations of trout but harsh winters and predation leave most bodies of water barren.

Spotted Bear River

Shallow during the summer months, I didn’t have any luck. There are more than likely brook trout in the higher altitude stretches.

Sun River

Amazing fishing waits for the angler who dares. Look for log piles that have dammed up the water and created deeper holes. Natural rock pools and bends in the river provide ample habitat for brook, cutthroat, and rainbows. With a limit of up to 25 brook trout, it makes having a shore lunch easy to do.

Wild West Trail Notes

The trail is well maintained from late July onward. Hitting it early in the season means hiking before trail crews clear the blowdowns. However, with excellent trail maintenance every year, even The Bob at her worse, it 100x better than The Frank at his best.

Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park
Continental Divide Trail Big Sky Variant
Continental Divide Trail Big Sky Variant

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