As the snow falls heavily outside my office window, I was looking back on hikes from the tremendous autumn that we experienced in Montana. One of the best was a quick hike along the banks of Big Creek in the Bitterroot Mountains. This trail is a real cruiser with minimal elevation gain and a great smooth trail. The real attraction of Big Creek is the stream itself, a seemingly endless series of pools and cascades. A thin mat of fallen, golden larch needles paved the trail as mist and fog clung to the forest. The forest floor still had a delightful variety of fungi (that’s mushrooms in Plains)…we even managed to find a large bear’s head fungus growing from a downed larch trunk. The foot bridge across the creek is a real highlight with the creek cascading full force beneath its creosote-soaked timbers. We hiked about 1/2 mile past the bridge to a picturesque pool that was home to a Belted Kingfisher and numerous Golden-crowned Kinglets.
Max elevation: 4367 ft