Located near Kalispell, in the Flathead National Forest of northwest Montana, Upper Dayton Creek OHV Trail is part of a unique trail system unlike any other one in a National Forest. Designated as a National Recreation Trail in 1979, it was not until the 2000's that members from two local 4-wheel drive clubs were given the "OK" to create numerous manmade "challenge features" along several forest roads that now make up the three legs of the Blacktail-Wild Bill ORV Trail system. This trail system is the northernmost Jeep Badge of Honor (BOH) trail, and by far the most unique trail system Jeep has recognized. Obstacles include natural rock ledges, deep machine cut holes, large tractor tires, and huge logs. Jeep owners from across the country might visit this area mainly in summer, but don't be fooled. Even during the winter, this area is an off-roader's fun house.
Trail Difficulty and Assessment
2WD Vehicle with High Clearance
All obstacles along this route are optional and have complete bypasses, resulting in the low-end rating. The high-end rating is not based on a specific obstacle, as each obstacle is unique in its design, difficulty, and the type of vehicle best suited for the obstacle. Some obstacles are deep holes and big logs with narrow break-over angles, while others are large rock piles with big boulders. Waypoint 12 offers the most diversity of any obstacle along the trail and has an easy and difficult line for nearly any vehicle.
The hardest part of the trail that you
cannot bypass - you have to drive it.
The hardest part of the trail that is
purely optional - you can bypass it.
Dirt and/or rocky road. Potential rocks and/or tree stumps less than 8" tall and/or vertical ledges less than 9" tall and/or near vertical ledges or waterfalls less than 12" inches. Good tire placement likely. Can be steep but with good traction. Read More about our Rating System
Upper Dayton Creek OHV starts at the southernmost trailhead for the Blacktail-Wild Bill ORV trail system. This straight-through route follows Forest Service Road 918 for 4.37 miles to the Truman Saddle Junction. When dry, the main road is an easy, bumpy dirt road that any high clearance 2WD vehicle can complete. However, the route offers more than 15 optional obstacles on the sides of the trail that can entertain any vehicle and any driver's experience level. Most obstacles are manmade with some natural help and are called "Challenge Features." This southwest leg makes up only one of the three legs of the ORV trail system, and Upper Dayton Creek OHV offers the most intermediate challenge features of the three legs. Challenge features along this leg utilize deep holes and a lot of large logs. The most noteworthy feature is the log tightrope at Waypoint 13. Combine this trail with Blacktail OHV and Wild Bill - Eagle Mountain to complete the entire Jeep Badge of Honor.
1. Upper Dayton Creek Trailhead (0
The Upper Dayton Creek trailhead is a large staging area with plenty of parking for trucks and trailers. There are several areas to the side good for dispersed camping. Pull out onto Dayton Creek Road from the staging area and head west 100 yards to start the official trail.
2. Trail 918 Start (0.05
918 officially starts at the Upper Dayton Creek Trailhead kiosk. The trail starts up the hill with two possible routes. To the left is a rocky climb with several large boulders to work your way around or over. To bypass this obstacle, take the route to the right.
3. Rock Pile (0.15
On the west side of the trail is an obstacle with several large boulders piled up just before two deep holes. This obstacle favors short-wheelbase vehicles with large tires. Bypass to the right.
4. Rock Pile (0.17
This second rock pile obstacle does not have the large holes like the prior obstacle, just simply a pile of boulders about 30''-36'' tall, good for large tire vehicles. Bypass to the right.
5. Flex Obstacle (0.34
This obstacle is a good opportunity for any vehicle to test its suspension flex. Alternating holes from left to right drop one tire while keeping the opposite tire high. Bypass to the right.
6. Log Obstacle (0.44
This obstacle is a small pit with three large logs buried in the dirt. These logs will test your vehicle's break-over angle. Bypass to the right.
7. Large Logs (1.21
Just before a logging clearing, you will find an obstacle with four large logs buried in the rocky soil, with a large boulder pile between them and the bypass route. The logs on the left have large holes before and after them making this part of the obstacle best for large tire, short wheelbase vehicles. The boulder pile in the center is a great opportunity to test rock sliders and get flex posing pictures.
8. Log Ramp (1.33
This log ramp is fun but can be a tricky obstacle. Good tire placement specific to your vehicle will determine the best line. Be cautious and don't allow your driveshafts, differentials, or steering to catch on the large log in the center of the ramp. Several lines down the ramp exist. Be aware that the first tree to winch to is nearly 100 feet away. Bypass to the left.
9. Intersection - Stay Straight (1.66
Stay straight at this 4-way intersection and continue on 918. To the right is a small area used for dispersed camping.
10. Tires (1.72
Stacked together in a line is a set of large tractor tires, partially buried in the rocky soil. This obstacle is best for short-wheelbase vehicles with high break-over angles. Obstacles made of rubber are known to grab hold of sharp undercarriage parts and cause driveline breakage. Bypass to the left or right.
11. Rocky Ledge (2.36
On the north side of the trail, you'll notice a small rocky ledge followed by two deep holes. This obstacle favors a short narrow wheelbase. Bypass to the right.
12. Playground (2.63
This playground area offers several different lines and routes and multiple different obstacle types. To the right, you have very large logs and deep holes. In the center is a line of tires, smaller than the previous tire obstacle. And directly ahead is a large, natural rock ledge that gets dug out a little more with each vehicle attempt. The bypass route snakes its way from left to right between obstacles.
13. Dual Log Tightrope (2.85
To the north of the main trail is a narrow cut through the trees to an obstacle with two logs you must tightrope your vehicle across. Wide, full-size vehicles might find the width of the logs too narrow. A spotter is extremely helpful for this obstacle. Bypass around to the right.
14. Eagle Junction - Stay Straight (3.11
The trail crests a ridgeline at the edge of a logging cut and comes to a three-way intersection called Eagle Junction. This is one of the highest points in the ORV trail system and a major intersection of two of the main trails. To the left is the Wild Bill - Eagle Mountain trail that takes you to the Wild Bill Trailhead and the town of Kila. Continue to the right to follow Upper Dayton Creek and finish at Truman Saddle.
15. Big Holes (3.73
To the east, cutting a shortcut through the switchback is a series of deep holes. This obstacle is best for small, short-wheelbase vehicles. The soil is a little softer here with not as many rocks, thus scrapping your undercarriage should not be too damage inflicting. Bypass to the left through the switchback.
16. Big Holes Reconnect - Stay Straight (3.83
The shortcut from Waypoint 15 reconnects here on the right, while another road shoots off to the left and deadends in the middle of a logging cut. Continue straight through this intersection.
17. Door Handle Connector (4.09
Continue straight through this 4-way intersection known as Door Handle Connector. The trail to the left will take you through narrow trees down the Wild Bill-Truman Creek trail. To the right is an optional obstacle down a steep hill with alternating holes on each side, testing your suspension flex.
18. Obstacle Loop (4.31
Just before Truman Saddle, one last obstacle exists, looping through the trees to the east. This obstacle begins as a series of alternating holes flexing the suspension left and right before making one hard turn back to the main trail. The final turn in this obstacle climbs out of a deep hole between narrow, steep berms to both sides. Long wheelbase vehicles will struggle to make the turn without fears of flopping over. Good suspension flex is imperative in this obstacle.
19. Trail Ends - Saddle Junction (4.37
The trail ends at the Truman Saddle Junction where there are 4 other roads you can traverse. Straight ahead and slightly left is the Blacktail OHV Trail. Straight ahead and slightly right is Original Blacktail. Heading left will take Truman Creek to the town of Kila. Heading right will return to the Upper Dayton Creek Trailhead.
FR 918 allows dispersed camping, per the Forest Service. However, the only camping opportunities seem to be at the Upper Dayton Creek Trailhead and down a spur road at Waypoint 9. Along the rest of this route, no pre-established campsites exist.
Nearby Cramer Creek offers more dispersed campsite opportunities.
Lakeside is the nearest town with accommodations.
From the intersection of Highway 2 and Kila Hill Road in Kila, head east for .2 miles and turn right on Kila Road. Follow Kila Road for .9 miles and turn left on Smith Lake Road. Follow this for .3 miles and turn right on Browns Meadow Road. Follow that for 1 mile, then turn left on Truman Creek Road. Follow that for 2.3 miles and turn right on Wild Bill Creek Road. Follow that for 9.4 miles and turn slightly left on Dayton Creek Road until reaching the trailhead.
This trail is definitely more fun than Blacktail! At least for a full-size 4wd vehicle. Tons of obstacles with more variety and more that you can attempt without fear of getting turtled on nearly every obstacle. Fun trail and definitely worth the trip!
From the Community
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Mapping Crew - Colorado
Hi, I'm Ryan!
I am a Colorado native and I've been wheeling since I was 16 years old. I grew up with a relentless passion for all things Jeep and off road related, and that passion has never died out. I am a member of the Mile-Hi Jeep Club, and currently own a customized '05 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited (LJ) with a 5.7 Hemi swap.
I am a huge supporter of Stay the Trail and Tread Lightly, and have participated and even been in charge of many trail restoration projects. I have been a trail leader several times for events such as All-4-Fun, ColoradoFest, Set Them Free, 14er Fest, and others. I am also the creator of the Unlimited LJ Adventure.
My rig is built for extreme offroading, but I love to get my tires dirty on any kind of trail whether it's rock crawling or just scenic high Alpine drives. I've wheeled all over the country and love a great adventure, especially if I get to share those adventures with others.
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