Showdown Montana Ski Area is the heart of the Little Belt Mountain's mountain biking trail system. Hundreds of miles of Forest Service trail systems and fire roads spider web out from Showdown, creating an amazing array of mountain biking opportunities for all abilities of riders. These trails and rides will take you through some of the finest wild country that Montana has to offer and the best part is you will have it all to yourself.
Be sure to stop by Showdown or the Belt Creek Ranger Station to pick up the appropriate maps and learn about current trail conditions.
Almost all trails and forest roads leaving from Showdown have relatively easy access back to Highway 89, making for an easy car shuttle back to the top of the pass or a good climb on the pavement to complete the loops.
The best season for riding in the Little Belts is generally from mid-June through early-October depending on snowfall. Make sure to check your map and know what you are getting into as distances can seem much longer when at altitude (most trails are above 6500 feet). Be prepared for all weather conditions. While summer weather is typically perfect for biking, severe weather conditions can role in quickly, always take appropriate gear with you. In the late fall, you'll be sharing the mountains with hunters, so be sure to wear your orange.
Again, the Little Belts are well laced with trails and roads but they are not heavily traveled. Do not expect to see another party, you are on your own for repairs and any emergencies. Plan and ride accordingly.
Porphyry Peak (Showdown) to Ranch Creek Loop
Distance: 17 Miles Loop, 10 miles with Shuttle
Elevation +/-: 2,500 ft.
Tread Surface: Gravel Forest Roads, wide single-track with a few loose rocks, highway
Ride Highlights: Fast descents, great views and meadows full of wildflowers.
Ride Summary: A demanding climb to the top of Porphyry Peak but well worth it for the great views, the fun rolling trail along the Mizpah ridgeline and the fast downhill back to the Highway.
Share the Trail: The Ranch Creek road is open to motorized travel.
Ride Directions: The ride begins at the top of King's Hill Pass on US 89, climbing up Porphyry Road (F.S. road #838, west side of highway) to the summit of Showdown Montana Ski Area. At the summit, take a well-deserved rest at the Porphyry Peak Fire Lookout, which offers commanding views of central Montana. From the summit, head south on the Mizpah Ridge Trial #780, marked by blue diamonds. The trail has several steep descents before traveling across the top of the Mizpah Bowls. At the top of the bowl is an Adirondack shelter, perfect for a rest-stop/picnic. Continue south across the clearings to the trail.
The trail re-enters the trees and side-hills around a small peak, emerging at the top of Ranch Creek. Follow the trail around the top of the clear cut to the far southwest side of the cirque, where the trail turns sharply to the left (east) and drops down into the clear cut. This turn is a true hairpin and can be easily missed. Enjoy the fast descent down into ranch creek on the old logging road (F.S. road #3423) to the junction with U.S. Highway 89. (Watch for occasional range cattle along the bottom section.) From here, head north on U.S. Highway 89 for a seven-mile climb on the pavement back to the top of King's Hill pass.
Dead Man Ridge Loop
Distance: 11 miles, 7 miles with shuttle
Elevation +/-: 1800 ft
Tread Surface: Gravel Roads, two track, single track, Highway
Ride Highlights: Views of Showdown Ski Area, tight down-hill switchbacks and wildflowers
Ride Summary: A good heart-pounding climb to the top of King's Hill. Then a gradual descent on two-track through wildflower-filled meadows and onto a twisting single track into the Dead Man drainage and back to Highway 89.
Share the Trail: Trail is not open to motorized travel, but all roads are.
Ride Directions: Start at King's Hill Pass on US Highway 89 with the mile-long climb to the top of King's Hill on Memorial Way Road (F.S. road #487, east side of highway). At the top, continue towards the southeast on Forest Service Road #781, which bears to the right. This trail follows the meadows along the top western ridge of the Dead Man drainage. The tread along this section can be hard to follow through the meadows, so make sure to stay on top of the ridge and be watching for the blue diamonds that lead down into the trees on the highway side (west side) of the ridge, approximately 3.5 miles from the top of King's Hill.
Once in the trees, the trail narrows to true single track for a steep switchback descent off the ridge. After the downhill you are deposited in a logged meadow. Ride across the meadow to an old logging road (F.S. Road #4402) and follow the road down hill towards the southeast. Approximately, 3/4 of mile down the road the trail drops off to the right for another half mile of single track, past a few cabins and then continues along the cabins' access road to U.S. Highway 89.
If you've had enough single track, stay on the road until it connects with the South Fork Dead Man Road (F.S. Road #837), turn right on this road (downhill) and you will be returned to U.S. Highway 89. From there it is a four-mile pedal back up the highway to the top of King's Hill Pass.
Dry Wolf Ridge to Jefferson Loop
Distance: 23 miles, 18 miles w/shuttle
Elevation +/-: 3500 ft
Tread Surface: Gravel Roads, two track with some loose rock, awesome single track
Ride Highlights: Great Views, Sweet single track downhill.
Ride Summary: One of the favorite rides in the area, a good-heart pounding warm-up climb, rolling two-track across a wide ridge-line with amazing views and stunning wildflowers, and a 3 mile section of some the best single track downhill in the Little Belts.
Share the Trail: Open to motorized travel.
Ride Directions: Launch the climb from US Highway 89 at the top of King's Hill Pass up to the top of King's Hill, which sits across the Highway from Showdown Montana Ski Area, on Memorial Way Road (F.S. road #487, east side of highway). At the top turn left, heading north on Dry Wolf Road (F.S. Road #251), which traverses across the rolling ridgeline. While several double track roads branch off, make sure to stay on Dry Wolf Road (F.S. Road #251) until the 10-mile mark. At this point, leave Dry Wolf Road (which forks to the east towards Yogo Peak) and take the left-fork, (F.S. Road #3300) which side hills around Tepee Butte for about .8 miles, before dropping to the Jefferson Saddle and the start of the Jefferson Trail.
The Jefferson trail is what single track should beswooping downhill runs, with some big switchback corners. The trail descends into the Jefferson drainage (west off the ridge) for 3 miles before intersecting with Chamberlain Road (F.S. Road #3328). ATVs and motorbikes are rare on weekdays, but keep your eyes open. From here, if you've set up a shuttle at the bottom of Jefferson Road, take a right and a quarter mile later a turn to the left and follow Jefferson Road (F.S. Road #267) for five miles out to intersect with U.S. Highway 89 (just keep heading downhill).
Those without a shuttle can take Chamberlain Road (F.S. Road #3328) to the left (south) back up towards King's Hill Pass. After 6.5 miles you will intersect with U.S. Highway 89. Keep at eye out for the connector trails on the left (east side of highway) to take you the last two miles up to the top of the pass without having to pedal up the pavement.