Backcountry Trail-Preservation in The Bob Marshall Wilderness, Montana

Sierra Club Outings Trip # 14277A, Service/ Volunteer


  • Explore mountains, limestone reefs, lush forests, broad valleys, and scenic rivers
  • Maintain and reconstruct important trails and sites
  • Enjoy the special characteristics of a wilderness area


  • Fun, engaging group interaction and collaboration
  • Sore muscles and plenty of satisfaction 


DatesJun 30–Jul 6, 2014
StaffHoward Kellogg

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Trip Overview

Please note that the leader has changed from what was originally published. If you have questions, please contact us.

The Trip

We will restore or build trails, clear trails of debris, and remove invasive vegetation in the Bob Marshall Wilderness -- 1.5 million acres of federally designated wilderness that stretches along the Montana Rocky Mountains, from Glacier National Park in the north to Roger’s Pass in the south. The system of public-land tracks -- considered by many to be the wilderness crown jewel in the lower 48 -- features clear air, crisp water, and a variety of wildlife. Straddling the Continental Divide, this unparalleled area is comprised of towering limestone reefs (including the famous Chinese Wall), high and staggered mountain ranges, lush forests, broad basins, cool valleys, and two Wild and Scenic rivers. A broad selection of wildlife inhabits it: elk, coyote, mountain lion, lynx, deer, moose, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, bear, and enough fish to fill a fisherperson’s dream. For the naturalist, also not to be missed are the variety of birds and flowers, which are appreciation-ready for the enthusiast’s eye or photographer’s lens.

The Project

We will work with the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation staff to repair trails, rebuild water bars and trail beds, clear trail-blocking vegetation, and remove invasive plants.  Expect both lightweight as well as more physically demanding tasks: the 200-pound adult will pull weeds and the 130-pound teenager will swing the Pulaski. We will mix and share jobs as we work in teams to complete our tasks, helping each other as we help to make “the Bob” accessible to those who cherish wilderness. Measuring our accomplishments is part of the fun and reward for the sweat!


We will meet on Monday and get acquainted over a meal. We will camp that evening and then hike to our work site and camp location.  Tuesday and Wednesday will be work days. Thursday will be a day to hike and explore in large or small groups. Friday and Saturday will again be work days. On Sunday we will depart after breakfast, hiking back to the trailhead and our vehicles. (We will carpool to the trail head to save space and money, and to share conversation.)



Getting There

Participants are responsible for getting themselves to and from our rendezvous location. We will be working on the eastern front of the Rockies, and the nearest airport is Great Falls, Montana. Amtrak also services East Glacier. There is no public transportation available to our meeting point, so carpooling in rental vehicles or personal vehicles are the best transportation options. Once our camp and work location are determined by the Forest Service and Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation, the trip leader will communicate them to participants along with email addresses of all participants. The Forest Service and BMW Foundation make an extra effort to provide a special camp/work location to enhance the wilderness experience.

Accommodations and Food

Come with an attitude that food is part of the adventure. Our Wilderness Foundation staff are experienced hands (and chefs), and plan nutritious menus and satisfying selections that are friendly for both vegetarians and meat eaters. We will all share in backcountry cooking and kitchen duty to experience firsthand the art of preparing “crew grub.” We will practice food storage prevention procedures to protect both animals and humans. (Bears tend to shy away from humans, especially in groups.) We will receive bear training from our Bob Marshall Foundation crew leader. Your Sierra Club leader and the Foundation leader will both carry pepper spray, but you are encouraged to bring your own.

If you have food allergies or other food restrictions, please contact the leader before applying for the trip to determine if accommodations are possible within the limitations of a backcountry kitchen.

Please include allergy information or preferences on your Participant Approval & Medical forms.

Trip Difficulty

Being physically fit is essential for both the work and free-day activities. We will hike to our camp site on the first and last days and to the work site each day. Heavy-rock lifting, using hand tools, and cutting water bars are all standard activities. Participants should be prepared for hiking two to six miles over rough terrain to the work project, carrying some tools and a day pack that contains rain gear, hat, lunch, and water. Participants will work at a self-determined pace; however, since this is a backcountry trip, all participants are strongly encouraged to hike on- and off-trail to prepare for the demands of it. (Don’t be intimidated by the work-project and hiking descriptions, but do prepare for them!) To ensure safety, we will discuss and practice proper transportation and use of tools.

Equipment and Clothing

Though a detailed equipment list will also be sent in a later mailing, you should plan for temperatures to reach the 80s in the day and the 40s at night, and know that our work project requires sturdy attire. Dressing in layers will allow you to be comfortable. Long-sleeved shirts; long pants; over-the-ankle, sturdy, waterproof hiking boots; and rainproof (not resistant) jacket and pants are strongly suggested. Avoid cotton. Bring a pair of leather work gloves, a plastic storage container with lid, cup, eating utensils, two water bottles, small hand sanitizer, and a personal first-aid kit. (The trip leaders will also carry first-aid kits.) Participants are responsible for tent, ground cover, sleeping bag & pad. Each participant will carry his or her personal gear to the camp site, so a large backpack will also be needed. And, don't forget your camera!



  • Check out Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation's website,, for additional trail guides, topo maps, and other info. You will have a day off, probably mid-week, to explore the area. Because we are at elevation, you are encouraged to arrive early to acclimate as well as to explore this beautiful National Wilderness Preservation system.
  • You can also look through the web site for more images and details.


  • Molvar, Erik, Hiking Montana’s Bob Marshall Wilderness. This is an excellent guide to the trails in the wilderness, giving not only mileage, condition, and some illustrations of the trails, but fishing info as well.
  • Graetz, Rick P., Montana’s Bob Marshall Country: The Bob Marshall, Scapegoat, Great Bear Wilderness Areas and Surrounding Wildlands. This is a pictorial book of each section of the Bob Marshall Complex, from the Great Bear to the Scapegoat.


  • We will have access to hiking maps for the area in which we work. 


We will practice Leave No Trace procedures, including the use of an outdoor latrine. We will return our campsite to as natural a state as possible after our visit, with the goal of allowing others the same wilderness experience. The Sierra Club is an environmentally focused entity concerned about conservation and sustainability of resources, both locally and globally. Our work is accomplished by volunteers and aided by a salaried staff, and we encourage grassroots involvement. Our outings seek to empower participants toward greater understanding, advocacy, and participation in these goals, which foster a greater awareness of nature and our impact on it.

In 2014 America celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The Sierra Club, various other organizations with a wilderness focus, and the four federal wilderness management agencies are vigorously planning this celebration. The goal of the effort is to assure that a broader public knows about the concept and benefits of wilderness. Sierra Club Outings is a vital part of the celebrations for wilderness.
While the Act was far in the future when our outings program started, we were already promoting the principle behind it: to forever set aside from human developments certain special places, by civic agreement. This is the basic principle on which the Sierra Club was founded. The wilderness anniversary gives us an opportunity to highlight our organization’s leading role—in publicizing this principle, in passing the 1964 Act, and in achieving more designated wilderness since then.



For Howard Kellogg, home is the desert of southeastern California, near the lower Colorado River and not far from the Pacific coast. A high school science teacher, Howard spends the school year exploring the vast and varied backcountry of Southern California by foot and canoe, leading Sierra Club chapter outings and Boy Scout adult canoe trainings. In the summer he hits the trail, leading, scouting, and exploring throughout the Rocky Mountain region.

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