While Winter gives way to Spring, we sadly retire our skis and other winter equipment to the garage. Like many of us in the Big Sky community, I'm ready to hit the ground running with my hiking boots tied, backpack filled with snacks, water and bear spray. But as I am doing a little "Spring Cleaning" at the Chamber updating brochures and preparing for the 2017 Summer, my thoughts return to one afternoon adventure I took with Julie Grimm, CAP Mentor Coordinator with Thrive in the Big Sky School District, and Stephanie Robinson, the lead wrangler from Jakes Horses.
Down a quiet road, beyond a private gate in Moonlight Basin, tucked between the boundary lines of the Lee Metcalf Wilderness, is a little-known area called Jack Creek Preserve. Although known to some in the community as Big Sky's 'best kept secret', Sarah Tilt, Executive Director of the Preserve thinks that it's not a secret to be hidden away. Within those sprawling 4500 acres of mountain views, streams, and wildlife, there are opportunities to embrace to show what Montana is all about. The Preserve offers an outdoor education center, 2 cabins available for overnight use, an archery range, and general camping options. To top it all off, the best part is the several miles of trails for cross country skiing, snowshoeing, horseback riding or hiking. In my opinion, it's the perfect playground for outdoor enthusiasts for all ages. The Preserve's outdoor educational center alone is something to enjoy and humbly brag about. Emily Jochem, the Program Director, gave us a tour of the facilities and a part of the Preserve. With the hopes of being 'off the grid' as Emily states, they have one large solar panel which partially services the center. Although that is a work in progress, it is something that is important to their representation and respect to the Preserve and its surroundings. The lower floor of the education center is a perfect meeting place with kitchen facilities and capability to serve a variety of group sizes. The upper lever can accommodate groups in bunk bed barrack style type rooms as well. With this incredible space, the Preserve is looking forward to serving as a retreat destination for groups and individual rentals in the coming year. They also hold their own Summer Camp for local and visiting kids in July and August. An adventure your kids would not want to miss!
Throughout the tour and my conversations with Emily and Sarah, there is a clear passion for the preservation of the land, the wildlife and a strong sense of environmental integrity and responsibility. Along with that passion comes a responsibility to share what Jack Creek Preserve offers to the Big Sky community, the yearly visitors and the surrounding communities. So, happily put those skis aside, pack your back pack, tie your hiking shoes, call for the road pass and head down out to the Preserve!
For Jack Creek Road Pass and access to the Preserve please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 406-995-7880. For more information on events, camping, cabin rentals and hiking guides visit www.jackcreekpreserve.org