West Fork Cabin (S Of Ennis)

Madison County, Montana

Overview

West Fork Cabin is a small, secluded cabin in the mountains of southwestern Montana, located high in the Gravelly Range. The area is home to a variety of wildlife and offers numerous trails for hikers, equestrians and off-road vehicle riders during warmer months and snowmobilers in the winter. The cabin is available from July 1 through March 31. It can typically be accessed by vehicle; however, a portion of the roadway may be muddy or snow-covered, requiring four-wheel drive or chains. Depending on the weather, snowmobiles may be necessary to reach the cabin. Guests are responsible for their own travel arrangements and safety, and must bring several of their own amenities.

Recreation

The cabin is used primarily for hunting, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Visitors are encouraged to practice safe snowmobiling techniques (learn more about avalanche danger).

Miles of hiking and horseback riding trails, which wind through the mountains and to the 10,542-foot Black Butte, can be accessed near the cabin. A trailhead just north of the West Fork Rest Area leads to the extensive network of trails in the backcountry. Off-road vehicles must stay on designated trails at all times in the area.

Facilities

You must call the Madison Ranger District at 406-682-4253 Monday - Friday 8:00 am to 4:30 pm for the cabin combination. The office is NOT open on Federal Holidays. The primitive, one-room cabin is small and has a set of bunk beds and one twin bed to sleep up to three people. It has a table and chairs, a propane stove and lantern, and a wood stove for heat. Firewood is stacked against the outside fence or within a box on the porch. The cabin is also stocked with basic cookware, dishes, utensils and cleaning equipment. An outhouse with a vault toilet is located about 30 yards south of the cabin at the tree line. It is not visible from the cabin and must be accessed through the gate in the back corner of the fence. Guests may use the large administrative horse pasture, but the condition of the fence cannot be guaranteed. The fence is usually down, requiring equestrian campers to bring their own fencing supplies. Animals are not allowed within the small, rail-fenced area immediately surrounding the cabin. The cabin does not have drinking water or electricity. Fuel is not provided for the stove or lantern. Guests need to bring their own water for drinking, cooking and cleaning. Water taken from the nearby spring box must be filtered or boiled prior to use. Cell phone service is minimal to nonexistent in the area. Items to bring include bedding, pillows, propane fuel canisters, food, flashlights, toilet paper, matches and garbage bags. All garbage and food must be packed out, and guests must clean the cabin and replenish the wood supply prior to leaving.

Natural Features

The cabin is located on the southern end of the Gravelly Range at an elevation of 8,460 feet at the headwaters of the West Fork Madison River. Much of the area around the cabin was burned in the Eureka Fire in 2013. Black Butte, the highest peak on the range and an old volcanic cone, is about 10 miles to the north and can be easlly climbed. The area is home to some of the highest-elevation pronghorn antelope, as well as other wildlife, such as elk, moose and bears ( learn about bear safety ).

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