Magazine article Sunset

A Missouri River Sojourn

Magazine article Sunset

A Missouri River Sojourn

Article excerpt

In Great Falls, Montana, bike or hike a storied waterway

In fall, the winding trail following the Missouri River out of Great Falls in central Montana makes a great outing: You'll see golden cottonwoods, chevrons of southbound geese, and frothy waterfalls. But from its start at Oddfellows Park, the 11-mile River's Edge Trail is also a history lesson. You can walk the route, but biking is the easiest way to explore it.

The first 5 miles take you past downtown Great Falls, platted in 1883 by Paris Gibson, who desired a city of "unsurpassed beauty and attractiveness." You'll ride by railroad relics that were vital to early Great Falls: a 16-span former railroad bridge, the 1913 Milwaukee Station tower, and a Great Northern caboose. Next is Black Eagle Falls and Dam, which powered a trolley system when this area was an 1800s industrial hub.

In the next few miles, moving north and east, you'll relive the Corps of Discovery's arduous 1805 portage past the Missouri's Great Falls-using cottonwood carts with treetrunk wheels. …

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