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Cochrane Dam will be open for public crossing on June 18

cochrane dam
Posted at 1:44 PM, Jun 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-09 15:53:28-04

GREAT FALLS — Bicyclists and hikers will be able access and cross the Missouri River at Cochrane Dam on Saturday, June 18, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The dam is normally closed to public access, but NorthWestern Energy and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks work together to provide this annual opportunity for people to experience the trails along the Missouri River in Great Falls.

FWP said in a news release that while normally only available as an out-and-back hike or ride, opening the crossing for public access on this day will allow trail users to make a loop and hike or ride both sides of the river on the same trip.

The River’s Edge Trail from the North Shore to the South Shore (or vice versa) can be used to reach Cochrane Dam, and once there, visitors may hike or walk their bike across the river on the dam. Giant Springs State Park staff or volunteers will be present on both sides of the dam to run the event, and signage will be out around the trails to help direct visitors.

Cochrane Dam can be accessed via:

* Lewis & Clark Trailhead

  • A 3.6 mile hike/ride starting on the paved trail going towards the crooked falls overlook and then following the marked trails to the dam.  Trail is moderate in difficulty. 
  • A 3.5 mile hike/ride following the marked trails the entire way.  This is a dirt single track trail and features rolling hills and an elevation change of 300-400 feet.  Trail is moderate in difficulty.

* Rainbow Trailhead

  • A 2.5 mile hike/ride from Rainbow Trailhead on the gravel service road, with rolling hills and 100-200 feet of elevation change.  This road is traveled on by NorthWestern Energy vehicles, please travel single file and stay to the right to stay out of their traffic. 
  • A 3.7mile hike/ride from Rainbow Trailhead onto the River’s Edge trail, with 300-400 feet of elevation change, rolling hills and some single-track spots.  Please be mindful of other trail users, take turns and descents slowly. 

Trail users should expect to encounter heavier than normal traffic during this event, and bicyclists should control their speed, yield to all, stay to the right except when passing, and ring a bell or call out before passing. A few areas of the trail are rated as moderately difficult and riders should plan accordingly.

This event is subject to change. For more information contact Giant Springs State Park at 406-727-1212 or email