Explore the most popular walking trails near Irwin with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

I’m not sure why this is saying the hike is only one mile??? We tried the hike on Memorial weekend and couldn’t go past a mile because of high water. We did encounter one moto biker. I think during summer one could cross the creek and make it up to the basin. Not sure how far that would be. We did hike up Driveway Canyon for a ways but not far enough to be impressed.

backpacking
10 days ago

This is a fun trail to hike and camp at. There's a pretty river that runs through and great scenery. Watch out for stinging nettles but other than that it's a fantastic trail!

The first 5 miles of this hike were easy and contained low, rolling trails. However, you have to cross the creek several times. This time of year (late April/early May) be prepared for lots of runoff and waist deep water. We turned around right at the turnoff for the hotsprings because the water was extremely deep and flowing very fast, so it'd be best to go late summer or early fall. Also, this trail is pretty exposed so make sure to bring either lots of water or a filter where you can drink from the creek.

on Big Elk Creek Trail

trail running
6 months ago

Great trail. We made a late season run to the 6.5 mile mark in preparation for next year's Palisades Ultra Trail Series. Creeks were cold and snow was 1-4 inches with lots of animal signs, no actual sightings though. Can't wait until next year!

hiking
7 months ago

Great trail, super pretty, just very muddy.

hiking
8 months ago

Narrow trail, rocky and steep. No water in creek. Definitely a challenging hike. Today smoke from the Montana wildfires made breathing very difficult. I felt like we were at 10,000 feet. Still some wildflowers to enjoy.

hiking
8 months ago

Nice trail up a neat little canyon. In the second half, watch for mountain goats on the West side of the canyon. At the top of the canyon, you can bushwhack your way up to the top of Mount Baird (ascend and follow the obvious ridge that will be on your right side). You can also crest over the ridge at the top of the trail and head down into Waterfall Canyon or Austin Canyon.

hiking
8 months ago

A great trail for a hike with younger children. The trail is quite easy for the first four miles or so, with lots of nice views of the creek. There's plenty of shade along the way, and for those so inclined, several good options for campsites within the first three miles. Beyond the three mile mark, look for mountain goats on the steep canyon walls.

At about five miles in, the trial splits, giving the more adventurous hiker several options, including the South Fork and the Siddoway Fork. The latter connects with Austin Canyon and Neeley Cove.

Nice easy hike. Trail was dusty so I guess no rain recently. Lots of Salmon in the river.

on Big Elk Creek Trail

9 months ago

Gorgeous trail that follows the river with beautiful scenery and didn't see anyone else. River is still pretty high but passable now. Bring your keen type sandals for this one and go in August or September when it's warm and the river is lower. Or just make it a smaller hike since it doesn't cross the river for a while.

Went the first week of August. It was a gorgeous hike. I agree with one of the previous reviews that it is on the upper edge of moderate. Don't get into this one expecting a nice leisurely stroll. Near the top it turned into a battle of wills and personal fortitude to make it all the way up. We somehow took a wrong turn and ended up overlooking a beautiful valley for lunch before our trek back down. My wife, our 9yr old son, and I were on the trail for about 8.5 miles and it took around 6 hours. All in all a worthwhile trip. They weren't lying about the wildflowers either. Between the flowers and the hundreds of hummingbirds it was something to remember.

trail running
10 months ago

Beautiful trail with a gradual uphill on the way out and a fun gentle downhill on the way back. I went out about 3.5 miles, but the brush was getting pretty thick after about 3 miles, so I would recommend making it a 6 mile or shorter run/hike on this trail.

pretty good trail, with the exception of the final turn where the trail forks to go either more up the canyon or to the hot springs. It was really hard to find. luckily I was with someone who knew what they were doing. It was excessively steep for the last mile and a half or two miles, especially since I was trail running it. It could really use some switchbacks or something to get up. there were also a lot of stream crossings. nothing more than knee deep though, so I didn't mind them too much. overall, it was a good trail, and is a great, but hard, run.

hiking
10 months ago

Beautiful trail! We went about halfway with kids and a dog, and it wasn't too difficult. the scenery is lovely. Bring bug spray!

hiking
10 months ago

This trail is a sweetheart. Really nice up at the top! This is perhaps a bit more difficult than the moderate rating. Steep trail in spots and loose rocks make it hazardous in spots. The view is awesome!. About 9 miles in and out.

hiking
11 months ago

Great trail! Both kid and dog friendly. Be careful around the creek, it was very full and very fast from winter/snow run off.

This was such a beautiful trail! Lots of beautiful scenery. There are signs for bears, so bring your bear spray. It is a wonderful time of year to go!

on Big Elk Creek Trail

hiking
11 months ago

Over all great hike. Trail needed to be cleaned up. There was flooding in many parts. I posted some picture.

hiking
11 months ago

If you are looking for a challenging and wet adventure hike, this is it! You will have to cross several parts of the river depending on how many detours you choose to take. The river ranges from knee deep to waist deep (at least when we went on June 3rd). Be cautious. Other than the river, the hike is quite easy until you reach the last mile before turning back. The last mile is mostly straight up before reaching the spring.

Part of the trail is difficult to see because of the river volume (at least when we went). For this reason, I highly recommend getting AllTrails! I'm not sure we would have made it all the way if we didn't use this app. There are many trails that lead away from the destination.

Great hike! Great App! Have fun, but be safe!

hiking
Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Beautiful area to hike by creek. Everything was really green.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Loved it

backpacking
Sunday, August 14, 2016

Well used, rugged trail. We backpacked in with our kids. Not a lot of shade at the first half of the hike. It was nice that it followed the stream the whole way for refilling our water. Set up camp right next to the hot spring. If I were to do it again with kids, I would hike the 6 miles, then camp at the bottom of the mountain and hike the last 1.5 miles up the mountain in the morning.

hiking
Thursday, July 21, 2016

little elk creek was dry so the previously mentioned crossings were not an issue. I made a loop of it went up little elk it the headwaters of waterfall canyon then came down sheep creek. Made for a long hike with 3600 feet of elevation but it was pretty. I did have a shuttle otherwise I would have had to climb some more and add a couple more miles. if I was to do it again I would come out palisades creek.

hiking
Saturday, June 25, 2016

Very pretty. The trail is along the creek and there is plenty of shade. Loved it. Did only about half of the hike. Had to turn around about half a mile after dry canyon crossroad. The creek was too deep and wide to continue further.

Friday, June 03, 2016

6 Creek crossings not to bad but washed out trail we might try again

Friday, June 03, 2016

cross thro the creek 5 times b4 getting 2 a rock slide area... trail gets lil confusing... it's marked w/ piles of rocks off 2 the rite side... pass another area in the creek hav to circle round 2 the rite keep goin then ya hit a spot where the creek washed out the path bout 20-30ft... the water was mid shin some deeper some more shallow... we turned around where it washed out

on Big Elk Creek Trail

hiking
Thursday, May 05, 2016

5-4-2016. It was a nice day. starting at mile 2 or 2 and a half, there isn't a ton of shade. It is still enjoyable. Just gets hot quickly. We turned around at mile 4, due to brush thickening. Gorgeous Creek. perfect for horses or dogs. It was running a little fast, but there is a nice flat, easy spot for dogs to lay down in the water around mile 2ish. Would definitely do this one again.

hiking
Friday, October 09, 2015

Great hot spring and hike. We were fortunate to have the camp ground to our selves over night, Friday before Labor Day. On the way out we saw about 12 people on horses heading in. There is a fresh water spring nearby as well. I've included a link of our maps. We had quite an adventure getting there, but it was well worth it. There were 15 water crossings about 12 were calf deep.

hiking
Monday, August 10, 2015

We hiked Little Elk Creek Trail on August 9. The scenery was dramatic. We only saw 2 other hikers whom we passed on the way down. We actually turned back after about 45 minutes because we lost the trail and ended up hiking on the dry river bed. I really wish the trail had been marked with somes blazes or signs. We saw only one sign and that was on the way down.

hiking
Monday, August 03, 2015

Restrooms are available at the south trailhead, no restrooms at the north trailhead. Trail is mainly used by dirt bikes, so you will meet a few. Each fork can be done as in-and-out (easy difficulty), if you do not want to do the whole loop, which is quite difficult to do in one day, however very well suited as an overnight trip - camping is possible in the basin lake area - about half way thought the hike. The initial parts of the trail are easy to follow, the trail can be a little harder to follow in the high section mostly because of the abundant vegetation. You might be able to follow the track defined by a dirt bike or download the GPX track. Also count with some fording, most of it easy though.

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