Big Creek during the extended Autumn

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.

Larch needles and mist in the morning

Larch needles and mist in the morning

Rainbow...oh, my God, it's a....single rainbow

Rainbow…oh, my God, it’s a….single rainbow

Like walking on a carpet of gold

Like walking on a carpet of gold

More larch needles

More larch needles

Bear's head fungus

Bear’s head fungus

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Big Creek roars on and on

Big Creek roars on and on

Written by Radd Icenoggle

I am a native Montanan, who has spent a lifetime as an outdoors and wildlife enthusiast. I earned a degree in biology with an emphasis on habitat relations. During my studies, I had the great fortune to research and compose a thesis that explored the effects of slope aspect on...
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