Continued Climbing Restrictions in Mill Creek Canyon

Contact(s): Tod McKay, (406) 363-7122

Hamilton, MT     Now that spring has arrived and warmer weather is just around the corner, the Stevensville Ranger District is reminding rock climbers of the continued moratorium on bolting in Mill Creek Canyon.  The “No Bolting” moratorium prohibits the installation of any new bolts and also prohibits expanding any of the current bolted routes in Mill Creek, north of Hamilton.  Replacement of existing bolts for safety reasons is acceptable.       

The area is a popular destination for hikers, horseback riders, and in the last several years has become very popular with rock climbers.  The increased use has resulted in numerous impacts including parking and trash issues, trail erosion, and the visual impact of climbing gear left on cliffs.    

The Forest Service is also closing several climbing routes, beginning April 1st to prevent disturbance to known raptor nesting sites.  On the north side of Mill Creek, the spring raptor closure will be the same as last year and includes the “Pie for Strength” climbing area.  Additional closures are planned for the south side of the canyon due to the recent discovery of additional nests.  See attached map of the closed areas.  Maps will be posted at area trailheads and on the Bitterroot National Forest website.

Wildlife Biologists plan to visit the area in the next several weeks to determine the presence or absence of birds using the nests.  If the nests are not active, the restrictions will be lifted.  Forest Service personnel are also planning additional climbing area visits later this spring to assess current conditions and how to move forward in the future.

In the meantime, Forest officials want to remind climbers of their responsibility to regulate use and self-police their activities by following the “Leave No Trace” and “Pack it In, Pack it Out” principles. The area will be monitored for compliance.  Climbers should also be aware that vandalism of bolts has been reported recently within the climbing area and they should pay close attention and inspect all bolt protection prior to use. 

Last spring, the Forest worked with members of the public and climbers on a “Leave No Trace Climbing” education and outreach brochure.  Copies of the new brochure are available at all Bitterroot National Forest offices and at trailhead bulletin boards.  To learn more about these simple climbing tips and recommendations visit  Click on Recreation and Climbing. 

For more information contact the Stevensville Ranger District at (406) 777-5461.  Stay in touch with us through and



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