Pioneer Loop National Recreation Trail #750
ElevationAscent: 6,074' 1,851 m
Descent: -5,286' -1,611 m
High: 9,261' 2,823 m
Low: 6,136' 1,870 m
GradeAvg Grade: 6% (4°)
Max Grade: 37% (20°)
“A scenic, ridgetop, backcountry experience.”— Leslie Kehmeier
At the top of Meadow Creek drainage, the climb levels out on the ridge of the West Pioneer Mountains. You'll get a good view of the dry forest made up of whitebark pine, lodgepole pine, and subalpine fir. There are endless viewpoints through this section overlooking the valleys and mountain ranges surrounding the area.
The trail continues west of Alder Peak, then turns south. Through this section, the route is somewhat flat with short section of steep ups and downs.
As the trail descends towards Effie Creek, the forest becomes more lush for a short section and then transitions back to dry as it reaches a saddle southeast of Shaw Mountain. From there, the trail drops quickly into a wet meadow area. There might be a chance to see wildlife here.
The trail follows the north side of Upper Stone Creek above wet, lush meadowlands and forest before climbing again to the ridge and more big views. It continues on this high route for a couple of miles before dropping to cross a wet saddle and small creek, before climbing slowly to Sand Lake, a beautiful spot below a high mountain.
From here, the route climbs a short section out of the lake basin and parallels the ridgeline to reach Baldy Lake, sitting at the base of a steep, slide rock slope. Look for mountain goats here as they can often be seen on the ridge above Baldy Lake. The trail levels out and passes through meadows and pine forest to reach Schwinegar Lake.
Just east of Schwinegar Lake, the trail heads down Lacy Creek, passing a few wet meadows. You'll navigate a few switchbacks down the side of the drainage for the first mile, then level out as the trail reaches its terminus at Lacy Creek Road and trailhead.
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Photos, Family Friendly, ADA Accessible, Need to Know, Dogs Allowed, Flora & Fauna
Land Manager: USFS - Beaverhead Deerlodge National Forest Office
Nov 25, 2019: Public Invited to Beal Mountain Mine Project Meeting