Launched in 2015, Five Valleys' Mount Dean Stone complex project has the potential to be Missoula’s biggest-ever open space opportunity, doubling the amount of open space surrounding the city. The project includes three phases, spanning three to five years.
In 2016 Five Valleys was pleased to completed Phase I of the project, which included the South Hills Spur. The Phase I lands were transferred into City of Missoula management in December 2016. Two trailheads are currently proposed for Phase I, and these trails will eventually connect trails on Mount Sentinel with future trails on Mount Dean Stone, via Pattee Canyon. While the City is undertaking trail and trailhead planning these lands are not open to the public.
Phase II is currently underway and features an option for Five Valleys to acquire 2,500 acres across the southeast flanks of the mountain from The Nature Conservancy. Thanks to the generosity of The Nature Conservancy, the Phase II parcel is currently open to public exploration. To respect the opportunity for this access, please keep in mind that the Phase II lands are still privately owned by The Nature Conservancy. The best way to access the Phase II lands is via Little Park Creek, which can be driven to on Upper Miller Creek Road. Little Park Creek will be a future trailhead, but is currently undeveloped. To get there, follow Miller Creek Road/Upper Miller Creek Road 8.5 miles from the Miller Creek Road roundabout. A Google map to the Little Park Creek proposed trailhead site is here.
Phase III includes additional options with other private landowners to conserve additional lands on Mount Dean Stone. Please respect these conservation-minded landowners, and do not trespass on their properties.
While we make headway on securing the land, Five Valleys has been working with partners and community members, through a recreation user group committee, to assess how to responsibly expand recreational opportunities. In addition, a natural resources committee will evaluate stewardship needs including forest management for wildfire mitigation. Both committees are working to identify appropriate long-term landowners for the vast acreages of Phases II and III and how the conserved lands dovetail into the larger contiguous conservation landscape.
Once completed, the Mount Dean Stone project will connect open space and trails in a 180-degree arc around Missoula, from the North Hills to the Bitterroot Valley, forever protecting and expanding the community’s access to close, public open space.
Read more about our exciting Mount Dean Stone project here.