Leverich Canyon

My parents were in town recently to meet my daughter (their first grandchild) and, as opportunities for hiking abound in Montana, we decided to spend a day on the trail. After perusing my copy of Bill Schneider’s excellent book Hiking Montana—the only comprehensive book of its kind—we decided to embark on an 11-mile out-and-back to Hyalite Lake, south of Bozeman.

Unfortunately, the park was closed when we arrived (still too early in the season?), forcing us to quickly alter our plans. So Leverich Canyon was not our first choice, but it looked promising and we were already in the area.

Leverich Canyon is sandwiched between the drainages of Hyalite Canyon and Sourdough Canyon and the eponymous trail is a 4.5-mile loop around the canyon walls. Along the way, it winds past an abandoned cabin and mineshaft. There are some good views occassionally to be glimpsed of Bozeman and the Bridger Mountains, but it’s not an especially remarkable trail and its popularity among mountain bikers doesn’t help.

I like to investigate the trails I hike, but I was unable to find much information about the name of the canyon or its history. There is a Leverich Creek that runs through the canyon as well as an historic Leverich School and an internet search turned up a number of Leverich families in the area. The only real lead I found was in A History of Montana 1739-1885, which reports of a certain C. Leverich, who left his family’s farm in Cedar County, Iowa for Montana in 1866.

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In 1872 [Leverich] located on his present place of 240 acres at the mouth of Leverich cañon. He took out the first timber that was ever cut. The location is a picturesque one at the foot of a beautiful mountain range.

Apart from his “visiting the different mining camps” before exploiting the canyon’s timber, there’s no mention of Leverich engaging in mining—so perhaps the abandoned mineshaft along the trail was built by someone else after he had already left for Wisconsin. 1866 would have been a bit late for Montana’s brief goldrush so perhaps Leverich instead turned his attention to timber, as the entry reports. Whatever the case, Leverich Canyon, like so many other places in Montana, seems to have taken its name from the white fortune-seeker who just happened to settle in the area.

Pros: Easy access for Bozeman locals; some good views.

Cons: Heavy mountain bike use. We were overtaken by at least three bikers and it’s still early in the season. In consequence, the trail is seriously eroded in parts and was recently rerouted to improve “flow.”

Trash Removed: 1 plastic bottle

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Abandoned cabin and mineshaft. Did C. Leverich build it?

Description:

The dirt road leading to the trailhead for the last mile is a bit rough. Low clearance vehicles might have trouble in bad weather or snow.

0.0 miles: Head up the trail and take the left fork about 600 feet in, as recommended by the signs (the right fork is a steeper climb).

1.75 miles: Abandoned mineshaft and cabin.

2.35 miles: The trail splits; stay right to complete the loop.

4.5 miles: Return to the trailhead.

Trailhead GPS: 45°35’02.1″N 111°02’26.1″W
Elevation gain: 1,200 ft.
Distance: 4.5-mile loop
Maps: U.S.G.S. Wheeler Mountain

Ⓐ Hiked by the author, May 13, 2016

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