“A nice cruise up scenic wooded path to Fox Creek Cabin then up South Cottonwood drainage to cross to Hyalite drainage.”
— Gary Hellenga
Type: Backcountry or Sidecountry
You'll need to book Fox Creek Cabin at the Forest Service ranger station in Bozeman or online at recreation.gov.
Need to Know
You can rent the cabin from Custer Gallatin National Forest. Inquire about availability of fire wood. If you plan to leave a vehicle at the History Rock Trailhead (using trailhead as endpoint of your trip, or a quick means to get to other trailheads in Hyalite), remember that the Hyalite Road is closed from April 1 to May15 each spring.
This trail gets pretty heavy use by people out for day hikes, to about the 2.5 - 3 mile point, with much less traffic beyond the intersection with the Wheeler Gulch Trail.
Park at well-used South Cottonwood Trailhead. Climb some initial switchbacks, then contour along South Cottonwood Creek on a mellow grade, occasionally crossing to the opposite side of the creek at 1 mile, 2 miles, and 2.5 miles (crossings are on single-log log bridges, which can be dicey on skis—look for alternative crossing points nearby where the creek has frozen over).
At the intersection with the Wheeler Gulch Trail, continue upstream, climbing slightly left—this trail will likely be much less traveled than the portion you've just skied. Continue up drainage with some sidehill climbs to avoid stream bluffs, to intersect with Fox Creek Trail (History Rock Trail) coming from the east. If you are planning to spend the night, the Fox Creek Cabin is just on the east of South Cottonwood Creek (there is a windy path to it from Fox Creek trail). The cabin sleeps 2—it's a bit tight!
Continuing on from the Fox Creek Cabin, return to Fox Creek / History Rock Trail and climb the slopes above and east of South Cottonwood. A bit over 1,000 feet up, you'll climb up the last, open, south-facing meadow, to reach a divide. Here, it might take a bit of route-finding to locate the trail that continues north and east around the high knob marking the highest reaches of the History Rock ascent. Look for an obvious tree cut through the dense woods.
This line will drop gradually north, then turn east and cross a flat saddle separating the Langohr drainage (do not descend down these slopes) from the History Rock slopes to the east. From here, continue to follow the trail cut until you can see the History Rock Lower Powder Fields
in open slopes through trees to your right. Then follow the History Rock - Lower Powder Fields
ski line and continue down the History Rock ascent path all the way to the History Rock trailhead. You can pre-position a vehicle here to either 1) end your trip or 2) use for shuttling to a continuation trail (e.g., trail to Maxey Cabin), or you can ski on trails to the southwest of the Hyalite Road (will diverge to skier's right just before arriving at History Rock Trailhead) to reach Hyalite Reservoir, with connections to Maxey or Window Rock cabins.