13 miles
Distance
2,892 ft
Climb
-2,891 ft
Descent
2 miles
High Point

The top of Thunderbolt Mountain offers one of the most outstanding 360-degree views in the Helena area. All of the surrounding mountain ranges are visible from the peak. The high elevation and thick timber make this trail one of the last in the region to shed snow, and drifts are common into late June. The first part of the trail to Cottonwood Lake is very popular with backcountry horsemen and horsewomen, so be alert, and make sure to park courteously, leaving room for horse trailers to turn around.

The trail to Cottonwood Lake is a moderate climb. From the lake, the trail climbs steeply to the top of Thunderbolt Mountain. The junction is at the north end of the lake; if you carry on farther than that you have missed it and are headed into the Little Blackfoot watershed. Near the top, the trail skirts the CDT and recommended wilderness areas where bikes are not allowed, so resist doing any further exploring on your bike.

This ride also offers opportunities for connections with Little Blackfoot Meadows and Larabee Gulch to the north.

Take the Bernice exit of I-90 (Exit 151) and follow the Boulder River Road (staying to the left). Stay on the Boulder River road to the Thunderbolt Creek road, which is directly opposite the Whitehouse Campground. The junction is a distinctive Y and is signed. The Thunderbolt Creek road ends at the trailhead.

Local Trail Association
Montana Bicycle Guild (www.montanabicycleguild.org)
Please consider joining or donating to the local riding association to support trail development & maintenance.
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Details

  • Riding area
  • Difficulty rating
    Blue
  • Route Type
    Out & Back
  • Bike type
    AM, XC
  • Direction
    One Direction
  • Physical rating
    Hard
  • Ridelogs
    4
More Stats for Thunderbolt Mountain mountain bike route
  • Altitude min
    6,391 ft
  • Altitude start
    6,392 ft
  • Altitude end
    6,393 ft
  • Grade
    0.001%
  • Grade max
    -42.59%
  • Grade min
    37.776%
  • Distance climb
    6 miles
  • Distance down
    7 miles
  • Distance flat
    4,636 ft
Avg: 4 (1 votes)
close
Trail Conditions
  • Unknown
  • Snow Groomed
  • Snow Packed
  • Snow Covered
  • Freeze/thaw Cycle
  • Icy
  • Prevalent Mud
  • Wet
  • Variable
  • Dry
  • Very Dry
Trail Ridden Direction
Trailforks scans users ridelogs to determine the most popular direction each trail is ridden. A good flowing trail network will have most trails flowing in a single direction according to their intension.
The colour categories are based on what percentage of riders are riding a trail in its intended direction.
  • > 96%
  • > 90%
  • > 80%
  • > 70%
  • > 50%
  • < 50%
Trail Last Ridden
Trailforks scans ridelogs to determine the last time a trail was ridden.
  • < 2 days
  • < 1 week
  • < 2 weeks
  • < 1 month
  • < 6 months
  • > 6 months
Trail Ridden Direction
The intendid direction a trail should be ridden.
  • Downhill Only
  • Downhill Primary
  • Both Directions
  • Uphill Primary
  • Uphill Only
  • One Direction
ContributeDetails
Colors indicate trail is missing specified detail.
  • Description
  • Photos
  • Description & Photos
  • Videos
Trail Popularity ?
Trailforks scans ridelogs to determine which trails are ridden the most in the last 9 months. Trails are compared with nearby trails in the same city region with a possible 25 colour shades. Think of this as a heatmap, more rides = more kinetic energy = warmer colors.
  • most popular
  • popular
  • less popular
  • not popular

LEGEND
Trail Difficulties
  • Access Road/Trail
  • White
  • Green
  • Blue
  • Black
  • Double Black Diamond

Trail Report Status
  • Clear / Green
  • Minor Issue / Yellow
  • Significant Issue / Amber
  • Closed

  • Land Owner Overlay
  • Wilderness (typically no bikes in USA)
  • BLM (public)
  • USFS (Wildlife sanctuaries darker than usfs)
  • State land
  • Indigenous
  • Military
Trail Conditions
  • Unknown
  • Snow Groomed
  • Snow Packed
  • Snow Covered
  • Freeze/thaw Cycle
  • Icy
  • Prevalent Mud
  • Wet
  • Variable
  • Dry
  • Very Dry
  • Map Markers
  • trail Trail Head
  • photo Photo
  • place Directory Listing
  • region Riding Area
  • TTF TTF
  • Parking Parking
  • Viewpoint Viewpoint
  • Information Information
  • Warning Warning
  • Directions Directions
  • Water Fountain/Source Water Fountain/Source
  • Sight Sight
  • Restrooms Restrooms
  • Gate Gate
  • Camping Camping
  • Trail Sign Trail Sign
  • Table or Bench Table or Bench
  • Table or Bench eBike Charging Point
  • Other Other
      Trail transparency

      Recent Trail Reports Along Route

      statustraildateconditiondescription
      Thunderbolt Mountain Trail
      Nov 1, 2017 @ 11:24am
      Nov 1, 2017
      First real snowfall of 2017/18 reporter
      Thunderbolt Mountain Summit
      Nov 1, 2017 @ 11:24am
      Nov 1, 2017
      First real snowfall of 2017/18 reporter
      L.O. Connection
      Nov 1, 2017 @ 11:24am
      Nov 1, 2017
      First real snowfall of 2017/18 reporter
      more reports »
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