Federal judge rules popular hiking trail in Madison Range is public; landowner’s lawsuit contended otherwise

by Montana Standard Staff, Montana Standard

“A federal judge on Monday issued an order that keeps a popular hiking trail near Ennis open for public access – contrary to an out-of-state landowner’s contention that it wasn’t public.

The case concerns the Indian Creek Trail in the west foothills of the Madison Range. The trail provides public access into the Lee Metcalf Wilderness.

The Wonder Ranch claimed that the trail, which traverses its 80-acre parcel south of Cameron, was used by the public because of the landowner’s “gratuitous’’ permission, and that no public right of access existed.

Judge Sam E. Haddon, in a 35-page ruling filed in Butte district court, disagreed.

He said the court found that ample precedent exists in Montana law to uphold the Forest Service’s and public’s prescriptive right of access for Trail No. 328, and that the right had been established no later than 1973.”

Indian Creek Trail
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Public Land/Water Access Association Inc. or PLWA,
is a citizen group organized and operated under the Montana nonprofit corporation act.
The Internal Revenue Service has made a determination that PLWA qualifies as a tax- exempt
organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and that it is a public charity.

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