Belt Creek races down through a limestone canyon as it flows out of the Little Belt Mountains on its way to the Missouri River. The narrow canyon reminded early-day miners of the sluice boxes used by prospectors to separate gold from gravel. Seven and a half miles of the canyon are designated as Sluice Boxes Primitive State Park.
In 1891 a railroad was completed through the canyon to connect nearby mines with the smelter in Great Falls. The tracks were abandoned and removed in 1946. Today hikers follow the old railbed as it wanders along Belt Creek.
The park is designated as primitive which means the trail is not maintained. The best season for hiking, fishing and camping is from July through September after spring runoff has past.
We hiked the first couple of miles of the trail in early September. The weather was beautiful and the vegetation lush. Beside the clear water of the creek, wildflowers were in bloom and bird songs echoed from the cliffs. We are looking forward to returning and hiking deeper into the canyon.
To find your way to Sluice Boxes State Park, go to the White Sulphur Springs to Great Falls Road Trip Guide.