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Scenic drive provides views of Big Snowy Mountains
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Scenic drive provides views of Big Snowy Mountains

Big Snowy Mountains

The Big Snowy Mountains rise behind what appears to be an old one-room schoolhouse along South McDonald Creek Road in Fergus County.

Between the old community of Forest Grove and East Fork Reservoir there’s a gravel road that provides spectacular views of the Big Snowy Mountains.

The South McDonald Creek Road is an east-to-west route between the well-traveled Red Hill Road and Forest Grove Road. About 12 miles long, the section of roadway travels across a plateau at about 4,700 feet on the north side of the Snowies in Fergus County.

At each end the route has an interesting place to visit. On the east side the Forest Grove Cemetery provides a quiet place of reflection next to the town’s church. While touring the gravesites you may hear rooster pheasants crowing in the distance along McDonald Creek.

From the church yard turn right and then left, looking for the Tyler Creek Road to the west. It takes travelers southwest along Tyler Creek with views up the valley to Lyons Butte and Alaska Bench, foothills to the Big Snowies.

About 4.25 miles along this route it climbs out of the creek drainage and turns almost due west to the open plain below Loco Ridge. What appears to be an old one-room schoolhouse sits forlorn and graying on the south side of the road, a perfect foreground for adding interest to a photo of the Big Snowies in the background.

The bookend to this short route is East Fork Reservoir, built along the East Fork Big Spring Creek. Located about 11 miles south of Lewistown, the 119-acre lake provides camping, fishing and boating opportunities with those same jaw-dropping views of the Snowies as a backdrop.

Managed by the city of Lewistown, the reservoir also provides picnic tables, a picnic shelter, restrooms, water and a boat launch. The impoundment is stocked with perch and northern pike.

Just below the reservoir dam on the north side is an unusual three-story covered deck that rises above its neighboring farmhouse. Supposedly the previous owner of the property built the tower so he could see the Big Snowy Mountains. After all, that’s the area’s most remarkable and picturesque feature.

Photos: Big Snowy Mountain drive


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