Refuge Point Cross Country Ski Trail, Montana

The Madison Earthquake River Canyon Area offers a wonderful opportunity for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in a beautiful snowy landscape.

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National Recreation Trail

Designated in 1980


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in the NRT Database

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The Refuge Point Cross Country Ski Trail is marked but not groomed. The loop is 2.3 miles or 4 kilometers long, but you can shorten it by taking the Smokejumper cutoff. By following the blue diamond markers, you will travel over gentle, rolling hills and through forests of Douglas Fir, Lodge Pole Pine, and Aspen.

Refuge Point played a crucial role as a meeting place after the 1959 Hebgen Lake Earthquake. This ridge provided shelter during the night of August 17 for many survivors of the earthquake. Campers were trapped between Hebgen Dam and the massive rock slide. The next morning, Forest Service smoke jumpers parachuted to this point and set up rescue operations.

Ghost Village is the remains of Halford Camp. From atop the ridge, hikers, cross-country skiers, and snowshoers can see the remaining cabins that were carried some distance away by the river's tsunami. Less eerie views include Quake Lake itself, serene and peaceful, as well as the rugged Madison Mountain Range and the Madison River with its rocky riverbed and plentiful trout.

photo credit: USFS Custer-Gallatin National Forest
Interpretive signs at the Refuge Point Trailhead

Interpretive signs at the Refuge Point Trailhead

 

When snowshoeing along the trail, you can read more about the 1959 earthquake and stop by the Visitor Center, which is conveniently located right down the road from the Refuge Point trailhead. The Visitor Center is open from June to October.

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