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Glacier Country Region
Clearwater State Forest
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The Clearwater State Forest is a pristine wilderness encompassing vast stretches of unspoiled natural beauty. Towering pine and fir trees cover the landscape, stretching as far as the eye can see. This forest is home to numerous sparkling rivers, sparkling lakes, and crystal-clear streams, creating a haven for wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Visitors can explore a network of well-maintained hiking trails, offering breathtaking views of snow-capped mountains, tranquil meadows, and stunning waterfalls. The Clearwater State Forest provides a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, allowing individuals to reconnect with nature and experience the raw majesty of Montana's wilderness.
History of the Area
- Early 20th Century: The forest was originally known as the "Clearwater Timber Reserve" and was established as a part of the larger Lolo National Forest in 1906. At that time, the area was primarily used for logging activities, and various timber companies operated in the region.

- Logging Era: From the early 1900s until the 1950s, the forest witnessed extensive logging operations. Large-scale logging companies, such as the Anaconda Copper Mining Company, were actively involved in the extraction of timber. Logging was a crucial economic activity during this period, and the forest played a vital role in supporting the timber industry of Montana.

- Creation of Clearwater State Forest: In 1957, due to concerns regarding sustainable forestry practices and the need for better management of the region's resources, Clearwater State Forest was officially established. The forest covers an area of approximately 1,782 acres and is managed by the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC).

- Conservation and Recreation: Following the establishment of Clearwater State Forest, sustainable forestry management practices were implemented to ensure the long-term health and productivity of the forest. The area became accessible for recreational activities such as hiking, fishing, camping, and wildlife viewing, attracting outdoor enthusiasts from the region.

- Fire Management: Clearwater State Forest has a significant history of forest fires. Due to the prevalence of wildfires, active fire management programs were introduced to mitigate the potential risks and protect the forest resources. Controlled burns and fire suppression strategies have been implemented over the years to maintain forest health and prevent uncontrolled fire incidents.

- Present Day: Clearwater State Forest is an important natural resource in Montana. It serves as a haven for wildlife, provides recreational opportunities for visitors, and continues to be managed for sustainable timber production. The forest plays a role in supporting the local economy, while also serving as a valuable natural landscape for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.
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1. Start your journey from the city of Missoula, which serves as a convenient starting point for most visitors.
2. From Missoula, take US:12 E/MT-200 E heading east towards Bonner.
3. Continue on this road until you reach Potomac, where you will need to turn left onto MT:200 E/Missoula Avenue.
4. Follow MT:200 E for approximately 35 miles until you arrive at Ovando.
5. In Ovando, continue straight onto Main Street (which becomes Copper Creek Road) and stay on it for about 10 miles.

At this point, there are two main entrances into the Clearwater State Forest that provide access to different areas within the forest:

Option A: For accessing southern parts of the state forest:
6a. Look out for signs indicating "Clearwater Junction" or "Monture Campground.".
7a Turn right when reaching Monture Cabin Loop Road/Clearwater Crossing Rd after passing through Greenough Park area.
8a Proceed along Monture Cabin Loop Road/Clearwater Crossing Rd till arriving at desired destination.

Option B: For accessing northern parts of the state forest:
6b.Continue past Option A's junctions mentioned above if interested in exploring other regions.
7b.Turn right off Copper Creek Road onto Cottonwood Lakes Trailhead Access Point.

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Montana State Parks