It was a cold, windy Saturday when I decided to push my body and my bike out the door and onto the trail. I started in the late afternoon with just enough daylight to make a return trip. The breeze cut hard but didn’t stop me from biking to Whiskey Gulch Station—the start of the Copperway Regional Trail.
Copperway Regional Trail Quick FactsStates: MT
Counties: Silver Bow
Length: 6 miles
Trailheads: Whiskey Gulch, Rocker, & Silver Bow Stations
Copper Mining was king in Butte for over a century. Many of the railroads you see along the trail were constructed in order to transport precious rock ore from Butte mines to the Anaconda smelter. But it wasn’t always this way. In the early days settlers found gold along the Silver Bow Creek. In 1867, Shoalwater & Bros. grossed an average of $1,000 a day. That’s a pretty chunk of change even by today’s standards.
But eventually the gold dried up. In the late 1870s the town of Rocker enjoyed yet another mining boom—this time due to precious silver. The Bluebird silver mill provided hundreds of jobs for mill and mine workers. But by 1900 the silver was gone too. Then came the railroad. For most of the 19th century the Rocker depot was a major transportation hub, serving 3 major railroads: the Northern Pacific; the Chicago, Milwaukee, and Puget Sound; and the Butte, Anaconda, and Pacific.
Directions to the TrailheadFollow Centennial Avenue west and take a left on Santa Claus Rd. Follow Santa Claus Road for 1 mile and the Whiskey Gulch Station (trailhead) will be on your right before you pass the bridge over Silver Bow Creek. The exact address for your GPS is 1375 Santa Claus Road. The station includes a parking lot, restroom, and bike racks.
The trail begins at the Whiskey Gulch station off Santa Clause Road. Follow the signs to the paved trail heading west.
In .5 miles you will come across the 1st bridge crossing over Silver Bow Creek. Enjoy beautiful views of the Anaconda Pintler Wilderness in the background as the trail continues west towards Rocker.
At 1.2 miles you will cross the 2nd bridge just outside of Rocker.
At 1.5 miles you will come across the first tunnel underneath a set of railroad tracks. On the other side of the tunnel, the trail splits. To the right is the Rocker Station. To the left the trail continues on over the 3rd bridge crossing.
If you take a right the Rocker Station has restrooms and a playground for kids. For those in a time crunch or not feeling up to the full 6 miles, starting at the Rocker Station cuts 1.5 miles off the trail one way and saves time. A nice parking lot allows you to easily drive your bike to this station and start from here.
At 2.25 miles you will cross over the Silver Bow Creek on the 4th bridge. Keep a set of railroad tracks to your left and the creek to your right and you will be all set. As you cross the bridge the creek will then be on your left for a brief period of time.
At approximately 2.5 miles you will cross the railroad tracks. Be very alert as the tracks are active. Signs warn bikers to walk bikes over the tracks.
From the railroad crossing you will bike approximately 350ft to pass your 5th and final bridge.
Shortly after this bridge the trail goes underneath I-15.
At 4.8 miles you will find tunnel 2 (the last tunnel) that takes you underneath the tracks.
From here you will climb a series of switchbacks up the side of a hill. At the top of the hill you can see the town of Silver Bow.
At 6 miles you will end your journey at the Silver Bow Station. This marks the end of your journey.
Hope you enjoyed this guide on the Copperway Regional Trail. Be sure to follow me on Twitter for more guides like this.