Go Crazy at Half Moon Campground
A few weeks ago I wrote about a trip to Glaston Lakes where you could get a really nice view of the Crazy Mountains. I had always wanted to take a trip to the Crazies and backpack around and see the sites. However, the Beartooths are what I know and I have always succumbed to going to where I know and I’m comfortable rather than take a trip over to the other side of the interstate. I finally made up my mind back in June that I wanted to go play in the Crazies. Unfortunately, the summer gets booked up quickly, and I had to put the trip out quite a ways.
With a small child it is easier to car camp than to backpack, so we decided to head up Big Timber Canyon and stay at the Half Moon Campground. When we got there, it was completely filled up. While it is always irritating to get to a campground only to find there is no spot to camp, we didn’t leave Billings until noon. So getting to a campground on a warm summer Saturday afternoon probably was not the best way to make sure to get a good spot. Being in the National Forest, however, we could camp anywhere we could find a flat surface. So we decide to camp at a picnic area that was actually deemed for day use only (we weren’t the only ones, there were about three other groups poaching picnic sites).
The campground and picnic area is beautiful. Lush grasses everywhere, large hives of ants that get very angry when you step on them, and just a short little walk will get you down to Big Timber Creek. A creek that is pretty easy to pull out 10 – 12 inch rainbow trout using just a spin caster and some fake bait. If I was a fly fisherman, I could probably do even better. But I’m not. I know not everyone is as keen on fishing as I am, so there are plenty of other things to do in the area. There are trails that go along the creek to Big Timber Creek Falls, and there are trails that head up and through the mountains following Big Timber Canyon. You can veer off on one of several side trails and hit up some high mountain lakes as well. Along the way you are bound to see at least some wildlife, and if you try really hard you could see a mountain lion as the Crazy Mountains have one of the densest mountain lion populations in the lower 48 states.
If you do go hiking in the Crazies make sure you know where you are going. Every other square mile is private land (looking at the map it looks like a quilt of green and white). When you are hiking through the private land you should stay on the trail and not disturb someone else’s property. It is hard when you walk past beautiful pools in the creek that you know are teeming with fish, but respecting the landowner is the only way to keep these areas open to the public.
The Crazy Mountains are beautiful and majestic. When you get into them, they are just as beautiful and majestic. There are miles of trails to hike, creeks and lakes to fish, and the Half Moon Campground is easy to get to (although hard to claim a spot). To get there you head into Big Timber. Turn as though you were taking highway 191 toward Harlowton. About 10 to 11 miles north of Big Timber watch for the signs that say “National Forest Access” and take Big Timber Canyon Road toward the Crazies (here’s a map). There are 15 miles of dusty road to travel, and you will wind your way through the foothills. Eventually the road will end at the campground, and that is where your adventure will begin. You can read about my adventure “Into the Crazies” on my site.