Wonder Ranch v. USDA, CV 14-57-BU-SEH, Oct. 24, 2016
Indian Creek Trail is a historic trail that has been used by Native Americans, settlers, US Forest Service, ranchers, loggers, a sawmill, hunters/anglers, outfitters and general recreationists since at least 1888. Indian Creek Trail, also known as FS Trail #328, which went through the Wonder Ranch. No recreationist needed to sign in or ask for a nearby landowner’s permission if they wanted to hike to No Man Lake, for instance; or head north to Circle Mountain or the Sphinx. In 1940, the USFS published the Beaverhead National Forest map, designating the Indian Creek Trail as “Trail #328”, publicizing it as part of the National Forest Trail System.
As much as PLWA wanted to, they could not have taken the Indian Creek Trail case, they could not even join as an intervenor, it was too late. Thankfully, our US Forest Service defended and secured their, and the public’s prescriptive easement rights, against the Hudsons, owners of the Wonder Ranch, before the United States District Court, in Butte, on October 24, 2016.
The Indian Creek Trail traverses through a number of properties south of Cameron, Montana in Madison County, in the foothills west of the Madison Range. The earliest record of the Trail is an old 1988 Geological Survey map, depicting the Trail exiting Indian Creek Canyon just north of and parallel to Indian Creek, basically where it still is today. Part of the history and documentation provided by the US Forest Service is a Gallatin Forest Reserve map that was published in 1905.