State parks across Montana will ring in the new year with guided hikes next Wednesday, including at Missouri Headwaters State Park northeast of Three Forks.
The First Day Hike at Missouri Headwaters State Park on New Year’s Day will be a moderate 3-mile loop that’s informative and family-friendly, according to a news release from Montana State Parks. Participants can meet at the main picnic grounds near the Gallatin River. The hike will begin at 11 a.m.
David Andrus, manager of the 532-acre park, said the event will include hot chocolate and toasted bagels beginning at 10 a.m. He said participants should dress warmly and wear sturdy shoes, but that the trails have been in decent condition for the last few days. Dogs should be left at home.
“If there’s good weather, we’ll have great views of the valley. It’s a great way to start the new year,” Andrus said.
Andrus said the most unique part of the park is its history as an important crossroads.
Missouri Headwaters State Park was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1960. The Lewis and Clark expedition camped there in 1805 on their way to the Pacific Ocean. However, the land had been used for thousands of years prior to the expedition by Bannock, Salish, Shoshone, Crow and Blackfeet tribes, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
Later, the land was used by fur traders as a meeting place. It was also where the state’s first flour mill was built, Andrus said. The mill supplied flour to gold miners throughout southwest Montana.
Today, Missouri Headwaters State Park has 17 campsites, walking trails and allows all types of outdoor recreation.
First Day Hikes are an annual tradition at state parks across the United States. The National Association of State Park Directors estimates that 55,000 people walked more than 133,000 miles in state parks on New Year’s Day last year.