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House of Sky Nears Completion

Updated: Dec 3, 2021

After a great summer full of work, the newest Mount Dean Stone trail, House of Sky, will be ready to open in early summer 2022.

The trail runs from where we left off with High, Wide, and Handsome near the top of Mount Dean Stone east along ridge to West Fork Deer Creek Road. Along the way it climbs to the top of Mitten Mountain, with outstanding views of the Missoula valley, the Rattlesnake Wilderness, and the Bitterroot Range. The ridgeline section was entirely hand built in an effort to match the character of the trail to this rugged landscape, while the sections close to W Fk Deer Cr Rd were machine built to provide a very accessible connection to the views from the ridge.

As project managers, we leveraged volunteers, contractors, and the Montana Conservation Corps to get this done. We're grateful for our partnerships with Five Valleys Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy, and the Mount Dean Stone Committee, which have made projects on this scale possible.

In planning for this trail, we worked with scientists, land managers, and other members of the Mount Dean Stone committee to find the best location for it and to minimize impacts to natural resources. In this case, the ridge is good elk winter range habitat, so there will be a seasonal closure of the ridge area from December through May each year.

With the trail in, the south side of Pattee Canyon is now fully connected with both the existing trails to the north and the neighborhoods of the South Hills.

We extend our deepest thanks to the many volunteers who helped make this possible. Many local social ride groups skipped one of their weekly rides to work on the trail, including Rattlesnake 1000, a TNR group, and the Dirt Girls. Run Wild Missoula co-promoted all of our volunteer events and provided some very timely brush clearing to keep the construction schedule on track.

To augment the volunteer effort, we worked with Montana Conservation Corps crews. Due to the difficult access, crews spiked out on top of the ridge for 10 days at a time. Thank you Kelsey, Olivia, Natalie and all the corps members for toughing it out and making it happen!

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