Tucked away in the Elkhorn Mountains just south of Helena, the Strawberry Butte Lookout trail is a gem just waiting to be discovered.
This mild 1.5-mile trail curls around Strawberry Butte before arriving at a U.S. Forest Service cabin and fire lookout tower at the top. It is accessible from either Montana City or Clancy. The lookout tower stands nearly 80 feet tall, an awe-inspiring sight to see at the top of the climb.
The trail begins at the base of Strawberry Butte, where Strawberry Lookout Road forks from Warm Springs Creek Road to the south of the butte. Recreationists can either hike from the fork in the road or drive an extra two-tenths of a mile up the hill to where a gate bars the road. In the summer months the gate is open and cars are able to travel directly to the top.
With sight lines to the south and west, this trail provides stunning panoramic views of the Elkhorns, Montana City and the Helena Valley on the way up. There are snow-capped mountains to gaze upon in nearly all directions. Upon arriving in the clearing at the top, visitors can explore the cabin campground, the lookout tower and the surrounding areas, all while enjoying spectacular views.
Because the trail is a road, it is open to most forms of recreation. From hiking to fat biking to skiing, this trail has something for everyone, even in the winter. Forest Service employees said there were some youngsters recently riding ski bikes — bikes with skis on the bottom instead of wheels — down the trail. And because of its southern exposure, the trail clears quicker than most others in the vicinity and is more usable earlier in the summer.
Whether you enjoy recreating on two feet, two wheels, or two skis, you are sure to enjoy breathtaking views and a fun, easy climb to the top of this trail.