My favorite part about living in Great Falls is that anytime I’m looking for a little adventure, I have so many nearby options to choose from. My go-to? Sluice Boxes State Park.

Adventure for me, is being able to escape the hustle and bustle of the work day. It doesn’t have to be a crazy hike or a long drive, just a chance for me to get out of the house, get some exercise, fresh air and vitamin D. (and to let my golden retriever, Nelson run around, of course!) Sluice Boxes State Park is my perfect adventure.


It’s a short drive from Great Falls – about 34 miles. Not only does it have the most beautiful views, but it’s got a couple different options for hiking trails. With this, I can switch it up each time I go, and they are all different lengths. Hiking is so therapeutic to me, so to have this mini-adventure so close to home, does wonders for my mental and physical health.

As a frequent hiker of these trails, I am a self-proclaimed professional at making sure I have all of my essentials with me in my backpack.

So, what’s in my backpack?

  1. Water: Because hydration.
  2. Bug spray: I always take bug spray with me because Montana mosquitoes (especially in the summer) don’t mess around. I like a natural, deet-free spray from Primally Pure.
  3. Sunscreen: Sunscreen is something that can always be found in my bag. Contrary to popular belief, sunscreen isn’t a seasonal necessity. Protect your lovely skin, friends!
  4. Deodorant: These trails may be on the lighter side, but you still might find yourself working up a sweat. Plus, there is nothing worse than being that person on the trail whose stench alone could repel a bear. Oh yeah, speaking of bears…
  5. Bear spray: This is NOT kept in my backpack. In case you didn’t know, a bear won’t wait for you to unzip your bag. So keep this on your hip or somewhere easily accessible. And yes, bears do hang out at the Sluice Boxes. It’s not often, but the chances are never zero.
  6. Socks: I always bring an extra pair of socks on hikes with me. Whether it be because my feet sweat a little too much or maybe I decided to get my feet wet in the river – either way, there is nothing more spa-like than changing into a clean pair of socks after a hike.
  7. Snacks: What’s a hike without snacks?

Adventure doesn’t have to be complicated.

As you can see by what’s in my tiny backpack, adventure doesn’t have to be complicated. Adventure isn’t always about scaling the craziest mountains, getting your adrenaline pumping or being risky. It’s about packing your bag and heading out to experience nature. To me, it’s heading out to the Sluice Boxes with my pup, Nelson. It’s taking deep breaths and experiencing nature in a different way; a new perspective, if you will.

Each time I spend at the Sluice Boxes, I find myself being reminded to live my life more intentionally and to not take life so seriously. I encourage you to make an effort to adventure at least once a week. (cough, cough) And definitely make the Sluice Boxes one of those adventures.



Molly Pearce is a southern Illinois native that packed up her belongings (along with her husband’s!) and moved to the best dam town in Montana (Great Falls if it isn’t obvious) to start their lives together in their dream state. Molly is a creative entrepreneur to her core and is passionate about her businesses in graphic design and wedding videography. Molly can almost always be found hiking all the serene trails that the Great Falls area has to offer or posting up and sipping a latte at Crooked Tree. Follow her other adventures in Great Falls on Facebook @mediabymollyrinehart and Instagram at