Blodgett Canyon of the Bitterroot Range

Blodgett Canyon Panoramic

Blodgett Canyon is filled with the enticing aromas of shiny-leaf ceanothus and wild rose that hang heavy in the rapidly warming air of a June day. Pale swallowtails and Rufous Hummingbirds flit and hover at the technicolor sex organs of the flowers. Sheer granite walls rise some 2000 feet above our heads as we set out on a day hike to Blodgett Falls. To say that this place has a certain majesty, would be a considerable understatement. Every time I looked up there was different vista, whether it was the rushing creek, the towering points, or the call of an Olive-sided Flycatcher.

This canyon was shaped into the deep U by the combined processes of  Idaho Batholith, a Late Cretaceous to Paleocene granitic intrusive mass, and massive glaciers of Ice Ages that carved down through the durable rock.

The trail itself is in relatively good shape with a few rocky areas here and there as the trail crosses a boulder field. The climb is rather moderate (only a shade over 700 feet to the falls at roughly 5 miles). At the 3 mile mark, you will cross a footbridge that offers fantastic views of the canyon.
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Blodgett Falls Pano

Roughly a mile and half above the footbridge, you leave behind the post 2000 fire area, and enter into wonderful subalpine and spruce forest. The ground is soft and lush, and the cool, humid breeze offers a welcome relief. The source of humidity becomes evident as a soft roar increases in volume with each footstep. The falls are located within a large cleft of granite. Placed on a small ledge near the falls, an American Dipper tends to its brood, who are safely tucked into the dome of vegetation and moss.

The wildlife that we saw consists mostly of butterflies and birds. Dreamy Duskywing, Common Alpine, and Lorquin’s Admiral were the predominate butterflies with a few unidentified blues and fritillaries cruising about the trail. Olive-sided Flycatchers, Hammond’s Flycatchers, and White-throated Swifts ruled the skies as Stellar’s Jays, Hermit and Swainson’s Thrushes called and sang from the forest. Along the many pools and wetlands, White-crowned Sparrows and American Three-toed Woodpeckers were present.

Overall, this is a tremendous hike that offers vistas reminiscent of Yosemite or the Alps. It was actually surprising how few other hikers we encountered on this beautiful June day.

Stellar's Jay

Stellar’s Jay on the forest floor

Dreamy Duskywing - Erynnis icelus

Dreamy Duskywing – Erynnis icelus

Lorquin's Admiral - Limenitis lorquini

Lorquin’s Admiral – Limenitis lorquini

Interesting side note

Don Mackey MemorialAt the beginning the trail, you come across a memorial stone for Don Mackey, a local smokejumper who died during the Storm King incident in 1994. I remember that fire season with its fierce fires and tragedy. I never Don Mackey, but sounded like a hell of a guy, who server others with selflessness.

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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