Mill Gulch to South Mill Creek

A hiking and horse trail climbing down from Mill Gulch Road up and over Ramshorn and Porphyry Mountains then down the South Fork of Mill Creek to the Mill Creek Road.Note: Mill Gulch and Mill Creek are different streams in different drainages. Due to the similarity in names this can be a little confusing.Mill Gulch to South Mill Creek; Part of Tobacco Root Trail (15) starts at Mill Gulch and the first 3 miles of the trail climb along the general course of the stream, sometimes right alongside the stream and sometimes higher on the side of the canyon. The first 3 miles are mostly in the timber and while a steady climb it is not difficult. The head of Mill Gulch is a cirque basin with a small lake or pond in an alpine meadow. From the basin the trail switchbacks up the wall of the cirque to the ridge between Mill Gulch and Ramshorn Creek. Views from the head of the basin and from the ridge are spectacular. A hike to this point and return to Mill Gulch Road makes a good day hike and doesn't require shuttling a vehicle to the other end of the trail.From the basin at the head of Mill Gulch all the way to the Mill Creek Road there is abundant evidence of historic mining activity, much of it dating from the Virginia City gold rush days, but some continuing up to more recent times. Please leave any remains of old cabins or mining equipment or Native American artifacts as you find them.At the ridge between Mill Gulch and Ramshorn Creek there are trail signs indicating the junction with Trail 15 that you are following and the Ramshorn Trail 16. Stay on Trail 15 in a northeasterly direction up the ridge toward Ramshorn Mountain. You'll start out following blazed trees but you'll soon reach the timber line and from there on the trail is marked with rock cairns. Cross Ramshorn Mountain to the saddle between Ramshorn and Porphyry Mountains. From this saddle there are views of South Meadow Creek and South Meadow Lake on the east side of the Tobacco Root Range and Madison Valley beyond.From this saddle the trail follows an old mining road (now closed to motorized traffic except for the last 2 miles above Mill Creek Road, which Is open to trail vehicles) around the west side of Porphyry Mountain back down to timberline into the South Fork of the Mill Creek drainage. Continue to follow the old road to Mill Creek Road.Length: 9 miles one way. Moderate difficulty.Trail Begins: Mill Gulch RoadTrail Ends: Mill Creek Road at the junction with South Fork of Mill Creek. USGS Map: Ramshorn Mountain

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