An Outdoor Lover’s Guide to Memorial Falls

Montana’s Memorial Falls is a hidden paradise awaiting discovery. Located just south of Neihart and easily accessible off US 89, this serene spot is maintained by the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest.

We will explore the Memorial Canyon/Falls Trailhead, which offers a moderately easy round trip, and the Jefferson Creek Trailhead, known for its versatile, longer route. The Big Baldy Mountain and Rhoda Lake Trailhead also provide a challenging loop, perfect for those seeking a summit experience.

Are you ready to experience the year-round beauty of Memorial Falls? Let’s discover the adventures and activities that make Memorial Falls and its surrounding trails a must-visit for hikers and climbers alike.

7 Key Takeaways on Memorial Falls

  1. Memorial Falls, located near Neihart, offers a serene and family-friendly adventure just 1.5 miles south of town, with the trail maintained by the Forest Service.
  2. The hike to Memorial Falls is a year-round activity, with the winter season transforming the area into a hotspot for snow activities like snowshoeing and ice climbing.
  3. The Memorial Canyon/Falls Trailhead provides a moderately easy 1.2-mile out-and-back hike, leading to the base of Memorial Falls and offering side trails to a second, lesser-known waterfall.
  4. Jefferson Creek Trailhead, a 7.8-mile round trip trail, is a former Forest Service Road that caters to various skill levels, with the winter season closing it to motorized traffic for serene snow activities.
  5. Big Baldy Mountain, close to Memorial Falls, offers a 3.9-mile loop trail with the option to connect to Rhoda Lake, providing a challenging ascent and picturesque views.
  6. Activities around Memorial Falls include hiking, picnicking, photography, wildlife viewing, and learning through educational signage, catering to a wide range of outdoor interests.
  7. The area near Memorial Falls in the Little Belt Mountains is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a variety of trails for hiking, skiing, and climbing, ensuring year-round adventure and enjoyment.

About Memorial Falls

Location CoordinatesElevationNearby FeaturesLocation
46°54′55° N, 110°41′35° W6,300 feet (1,920 meters)Giant Springs State Park, Gibson Park, and Montana ExpoParkCascade County, Montana, Southeast of Neihart on US Highway 89

Memorial Falls is like a secret treasure near Neihart, MT, waiting to be discovered. It’s a perfect adventure for families, not too far from the town. You’ll find it about 1.5 miles south of Neihart, just off US 89.

When you arrive, you’ll see a nice, big parking lot. It’s usually not too crowded, which is nice. The Forest Service in the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest takes care of the trail. They keep it in good shape, even though parts of it can be pretty steep.

The trail leads you to Memorial Falls, the main attraction at the end of Memorial Canyon. People love to take pictures here, especially from June to September when the wildflowers are in full bloom. This trail isn’t just for warm weather. In the winter, it’s a hotspot for snow activities like snowshoeing and ice climbing. 

You’ll start your journey at the Memorial Falls/Canyon Trailhead. The best part is you can visit this place any time of year. Whether you’re chasing waterfalls in the summer or conquering icy cliffs in the winter, Memorial Falls is ready for you.

Hiking Trails Near Memorial Falls

A tranquil forest path near Memorial Falls in Montana, with sunlight filtering through tall pines, invites a peaceful walk.

If you’re drawn to Memorial Falls and looking to extend your hiking adventure, you’re in for a treat. The area surrounding Memorial Falls offers a variety of hiking trails, each with its unique charm and scenic views.

1. Memorial Canyon/Falls Trailhead

Memorial Canyon/Falls Trailhead winds through rocky outcrops and lush foliage in Montana, with the waterfall flowing nearby.

Trail TypeOut-and-back
Distance1.2 miles (2 km) – Round Trip
DifficultyModerately easy
Starting PointOff US 89 just south of Neihart
ParkingRoadside parking available
Elevation Gain403 feet (122.8 meters)

The Memorial Canyon/Falls Trailhead is the starting point for a rewarding hike to Memorial Falls. This trail is a moderately easy 1.2-mile (2 km) out-and-back adventure that’s perfect for nature lovers of all levels. It’s a great way to spend a few hours in the great outdoors.

You can access the trail and parking off US 89 just south of Neihart, MT. There’s plenty of roadside parking available, making it convenient to start your journey. The trailhead marks the beginning of a path that leads you through some beautiful scenery.

As you start your hike, you’ll notice an elevation gain of 403 feet (122.8 meters). Don’t worry, most of this climb is at the beginning, but the trail is well-maintained and designed to be manageable. The effort is worth it, as the designated trail leads you to the base of Memorial Falls, a sight to behold.

One exciting thing about this trail is the existence of off-shoot social trails that lead behind Memorial Falls to a second, lesser-known waterfall. If you have the time and energy, these side trails offer a unique perspective and a chance to see even more natural beauty.

2. Jefferson Creek Trailhead

A frozen river framed by bare trees near Jefferson Creek Trailhead, with Montana's majestic mountains in the distance under a golden sky.

Trail TypeOut-and-back
Distance7.8 miles (12.6 km) – Round Trip
Starting PointJefferson Creek Trailhead
Elevation Gain744 feet (227 meters)

Jefferson Creek Trailhead is a popular starting point for the Memorial Falls Trail, known for its versatility and accessibility.

This trail, stretching 7.8 miles (12.6 km) round trip, is a former Forest Service Road that now caters to a variety of outdoor enthusiasts. It offers a manageable 744 feet (227 meters) of elevation gain, making it a great option for hikers of various skill levels.

The beginning of the trail runs parallel to Belt Creek, although the creek itself isn’t always in view from the path. As you continue, you’ll notice a gradual ascent without the typical switchbacks, providing a steady and consistent challenge.

During the summer months, the trail is open to motorized vehicles, so hikers should be mindful of sharing the path. This adds an extra layer of caution and awareness to the hiking experience, especially on busier days.

In the winter, the trail is closed to motorized traffic, transforming it into a serene winter wonderland perfect for activities like cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

This change not only ensures a quieter and more peaceful hike but also opens up new possibilities for enjoying the area’s natural beauty in a different season.

3. Big Baldy Mountain and Rhoda Lake Trailhead

Big Baldy Mountain and Rhoda Lake nestled in a rugged Montana landscape under a vast blue sky.

Trail TypeLoop (can be modified to out-and-back)
Distance3.9 miles (6.2 km)
Trail FeaturesConnects with Rhoda Lake
Elevation Gain2,093 feet (638 m)

Big Baldy Mountain, close to Memorial Falls, is a top choice for hikers looking to conquer a summit.

The 3.9-mile (6.2 km) loop trail is a great way to experience the mountain’s majesty. If you’re focused on just reaching the top, you can make it an out-and-back hike. This flexibility caters to different hiking preferences, whether you’re in for a full-loop adventure or a straight shot to the summit.

This trail also connects with Rhoda Lake, adding an extra layer of beauty to your hike. The loop around Rhoda Lake offers serene views along the water’s edge, making it a picturesque stop.

However, be prepared for a challenging ascent out of the bowl from Rhoda Lake. This part of the trail is where you’ll gain most of your elevation, but the views from the top are worth the effort.

Things to Do at Memorial Falls

Memorial waterfalls cascades gently over mossy rocks in a wooded landscape in Montana.

When you visit Memorial Falls, you’re stepping into a place of serene beauty and natural wonder. The activities around the falls are perfect for anyone who loves the outdoors. 

1. Hiking

Three hikers with backpacks trekking near Memorial waterfall in Montana.

Hiking in the Little Belt Mountains is a dream for anyone who loves to explore on foot. These mountains offer a wide range of trails perfect for every type of hiker, whether you’re just starting out or you’re looking for a challenge.

What’s great about the trails here is that they’re so varied. You can take on a tough hike that leads to the highest peaks, or opt for a shorter, easier trail that’s perfect for a family day out. This variety means there’s always a new adventure waiting for you.

And don’t think the fun stops when the snow falls. The area around Memorial Falls turns into a winter wonderland, offering a different kind of beauty for hikers. It’s a great time to grab your snowshoes and explore the snowy trails as they become one of the favorite trails of snowshoers.

In the warmer months, you can enjoy the lush greenery and the rush of the falls, while winter brings a serene blanket of snow. It’s nature’s way of inviting you to come and play, no matter the season.

2. Skiing

A skier in a purple jacket carving through fresh powder under a ski lift on a snowy mountain near Memorial Falls.

Montana’s winter wonderland near Memorial Falls offers a variety of skiing opportunities for all levels of enthusiasts. Here’s a look at what’s available:

  • The Little Belts – Home to Memorial Falls, are crisscrossed with hiking trails that transform into perfect paths for cross-country skiing in the winter.
  • Silver Crest Winter Recreation Area – Close to Neihart, is a haven for cross-country skiers and snowshoers, offering a network of trails that stretch for miles.
  • Showdown Mountain – Not far from Memorial Falls, boasts a developed trail system ideal for cross-country skiing. It is a great spot. It features a relaxed vibe, four lifts, and 39 runs that cater to all skill.

If you’re into the serene glide of cross-country skiing or the exhilarating rush of downhill runs, the areas near Memorial Falls have something for everyone, ensuring a memorable and enjoyable winter experience.

3. Ice and Rock Climbing

Two climbers helping each other near Memorial Falls at dusk.

Ice and rock climbing have recently gained popularity in Memorial Canyon, making it an exciting destination for adventure enthusiasts. While the canyon has been primarily known for its beautiful views and the stunning Memorial Falls, it now also offers thrills for climbers.

During the summer months, rock climbers occasionally traverse the canyon along the Memorial Falls trail.

Since 2014, the canyon has seen significant development in climbing routes, with three distinct climbing areas and a total of 35 documented routes. This development has turned Memorial Canyon into a hub for climbing activities, attracting climbers from all over.

The composition of the canyon, predominantly made of Neihart quartz, adds to the challenge and allure of the climbing routes. This type of quartz is known for its hardness and age, providing a unique and sometimes demanding climbing experience.

In winter, Memorial Falls transforms into a spot perfect for beginner ice climbers. The falls offer a safe and relatively easy climb, making it an ideal place for those new to the sport to practice.

Despite its suitability for beginners, the falls also provide a satisfying climb for experienced ice climbers, making it a versatile spot for all skill levels.

Memorial Falls Final Thoughts

Memorial Falls cascades over rugged cliffs, surrounded by lush Montana forest and enveloped in misty spray.

The Memorial Falls area is a treasure trove for outdoor activities, making it a year-round destination for adventure. From family-friendly hikes to challenging summit trails in the Little Belt Mountains, there’s something for everyone. The trails, maintained by the Forest Service, ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all hikers.

For those seeking an adrenaline rush, Memorial Canyon offers excellent opportunities for rock and ice climbing. The winter season transforms the landscape, inviting visitors to enjoy cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and more ice climbing, making the area a playground for winter sports enthusiasts.

Showdown Mountain stands out as a welcoming spot for downhill skiing, perfect for families looking to hit the slopes. Throughout the area, including Rhoda Lake and the stunning Memorial Falls, nature’s beauty is on full display, offering breathtaking views and photo opportunities that nature lovers and photographers will cherish.

Memorial Falls and the Little Belt Mountains are a must-visit for anyone who loves the great outdoors. If you’re an adventure seeker or someone who enjoys the serenity of nature, this place has something special to offer.

Memorial Falls FAQs

1. When Is the Best Time to Visit Memorial Falls for Hiking?

The best time to visit Memorial Falls for hiking is typically from late spring to early fall when the weather is milder, and the trails are more accessible. However, the area also offers winter activities such as snowshoeing and ice climbing, making it a year-round destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

2. Are Pets Allowed on the Trails at Memorial Falls?

Yes, pets are generally allowed on the trails at Memorial Falls. However, it’s essential to keep them on a leash and clean up after them to preserve the natural beauty of the area and ensure the safety of other visitors.

3. Is There an Entrance Fee to Access Memorial Falls?

No, there is no entrance fee to access Memorial Falls or its surrounding trails. The area is open to the public for enjoyment, and visitors are encouraged to explore the natural wonders it has to offer.

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Written by:

Ashley Smith
Hello there! I'm Ashley Smith, born on a chilly winter's day, Montana has been my playground since childhood. The first snowfall of the year always brings back memories of building snowmen and winter hikes. Co-founding was my way of sharing the magic of Montana's seasons with the world. While Chris dives deep into the landscapes, I'm obsessed with Montana's rich culture, from the local festivals to the tales passed down generations.

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