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JRCT - PO Box 697 - Pony, MT 59747   E-Mail   Search this Site   Donate
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JRCT member Warren Swager.
Warren Swager, JRCT Secretary

Jefferson River Chapter
Lewis & Clark Trail Heritage Foundation
EIN: 27-3668054

Canoeing, Rafting, Fishing, Hiking, Camping, Bird Watching,
Wildlife Viewing, Mushroom Hunting, Bicycling, Horseback Riding, and more!

Our Mission:
      The Jefferson River Chapter of the Lewis & Clark Trail Heritage Foundation seeks to preserve the land and history of the Jefferson River and neighboring segments of the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail, including, but not limited to:

  • Establishing a public canoe trail with campsites along the river
  • Preserving the undeveloped character of the landscape as Lewis and Clark would have found it
  • Improving public access, trails, and camping opportunities along the river
  • Protecting the natural biodiversity of this landscape
  • Promoting public awareness and interest in the history of the Lewis and Clark Expedition

Cedar canoe available for trade.

Conservation Trade-up Challenge!
Trading a book for land for a campsite on the Jefferson River Canoe Trail
Chapter president Tom Elpel's personal fundraiser for the Canoe Trail.

Lost Tomahawk Public Access Sign.

August 27 - 28, 2022
Jefferson River Canoe Trail Annual Trip
Twin Bridges to Lost Tomahawk

      The Jefferson River Canoe Trail retraces by water an essential segment of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail along the entire length of the Jefferson River in southwest Montana.

      The Lewis and Clark Expedition towed dugout canoes up the Jefferson River in 1805 in search of a navigable water route to the Pacific. Most present-day travelers prefer to follow the trail in reverse, floating down the Jefferson River in search of fun and fishing. The entire length of the river is Class I water, suitable for beginning paddlers, except during runoff season in spring.

      The Canoe Trail includes a network of multipurpose campsites on public lands on the Jefferson River. The public may float into these sites for primitive camping along the river. At each camp there are opportunities for such activities as bird watching, mushrooming, hiking, and fishing.

      This year we will paddle the upper river from Twin Bridges down to Lost Tomahawk at Parson's Bridge. (More details will follow.) We'll have a group potluck dinner in the evening and a live meeting of the Jefferson River Chapter of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation.

      This event is hosted by the Jefferson River Canoe Trail. The campout is open to members of the Jefferson River Canoe Trail, as well as members of the Bozeman Kayaking and Canoeing Meetup Group and anyone else who would like to join us.

      In lieu of a fee for the campout, we would be grateful for generous donations to the Jefferson River Canoe Trail to support work to secure additional public campsites along this segment of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.

A Tradition of Open Space and Open Access

Prunus virginiana.

      Here in Montana we value our tradition of open spaces and open access. People who have lived here all their lives are accustomed to hunting, hiking, and fishing for miles and miles along the rivers and through the woods, across public and private lands alike.

      But the culture in Montana is changing as many new people move to the area, bringing different ideas of private ownership. "No Trespassing" signs sprout up on lands that have been shared for generations. New fences are being erected, not to keep livestock in, but to keep people out. Some landowners have fenced right up to the river bridges, blocking legal public access along the road easements.

      In many ways it is simply a cultural misunderstanding, as many new arrivals are simply unfamiliar with Montana's tradition of open space and open access. The Jefferson River Chapter of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation is seeking long-term solutions to sustain Montana's outdoor traditions, especially through the purchase of conservation and recreation easements along the Jefferson River.

      We welcome you to join us in our efforts to make a real difference in this part of the world. If you have ideas or enthusiasm to make this vision a reality, please join our group today. We hold our meetings almost exclusively via e-mail. You can participate in our e-mail discussions at your own convenience from your own home or office. Please click here to join. You will also be invited to participate in our annual meeting and float trips, as we get together once each year for a more personal dialogue and loads of fun.

Read A Vision for the Future by Thomas J. Elpel

JRCT member Warren Swager. Installing an interpetive sign at Shoshone Landing, April 23rd, 2016.

ACA logo.
The Jefferson River Canoe Trail is
a Paddle America Club (#22025545 ) of the American Canoe Association

Images from Canoe Trail Float Trips
PO Box 697
Pony, MT 59747
E-mail Contact Page

2021 Board Members and Officers
Thomas J. Elpel (President) | Beverly Lewis (Vice-President) | Jack Batsel (Secretary) | Bruce Fields (Treasurer) | Lucy Ednie

Hi Mr. Elpel,

Kayaks on Jefferson River, MT.       Thank you so incredibly much for all of your information that made our trip down the Jefferson possible. My husband and I floated/paddled from Waterloo to the bridge just before Three Forks. We spent two overnights. It was an amazing and memorable trip. I saw two moose, three grey owls, more bald eagles than I could count, white pelicans, cormorants, golden eagles, heron rookeries, and a coyote. I have been telling everyone about it. We did the trip in two lake kayaks.

      We would not have explored this area without your great website full of information and your maps. Thank you very much. My husband and I fully support your efforts in preserving this and we thank you for all you have done. We can't wait to go back in the fall sometime. It will be nicer without mosquitos!


Shannon Parsons

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