Hopping along Big Creek, Bitterroot Mountains

Feeling a little tired and sick, but needing some outside time, Jeff and me decided to hike to pleasantly inclined Big Creek trail. Following the, well, big creek, the sweeps under and through western red cedar, western larch, and ponderosa pine as the stream creates a din of white noise that is occasionally broken by the song of Swainson’s Thrush or Pacific Wren. The sun was shining softly through a thin haze of high clouds, and rise in humidity could be felt on the skin. A couple of Western toads (Bufo boreas) hopped from underfoot, including on hog of an amphibian at the pack bridge that crosses Big Creek. We also ran into 2 Common Gartersnakes with their bright yellow stripes on almost black bodies. I failed to catch either of them…man, I am still of kid. If you need a quick and easy hike to tame your mind or just stretch those office-weary legs, Big Creek is one of the best hikes in the Bitterroots.

Getting There

From Stevensville, MT take the Stevi cut-off road to Highway 93. Travel south for 5.6 miles and turn west (right) onto Bell Crossing. Follow for 0.5 miles and turn north (right) onto Curlew Orchard/Meridian Rd. The road will become Big Creek Road and then Big Creek Trail Road. Follow for approximately 3.5 miles to the end and the trailhead. There is a pit toilet at the trailhead (thank God).

You have to love June days in the woods

You have to love June days in the woods

A recently passed Vagrant Shrew on a carrion beetle

A recently passed Vagrant Shrew on a carrion beetle

After crossing Big Creek, the choice was to go onward

After crossing Big Creek, the choice was to go onward

Found this awesomely cooperative Paddle-tailed Darner

Found this awesomely cooperative Paddle-tailed Darner

Paddle-tailed Darner (Aeshna palmata) from Big Creek, Bitterroot Mountains, Montana

Paddle-tailed Darner (Aeshna palmata) from Big Creek, Bitterroot Mountains, Montana

The big Western Toad stood firm along Big Creek

The big Western Toad stood firm along Big Creek

I was thinking that this Western Toad had just crossed Big Creek

I was thinking that this Western Toad had just crossed Big Creek

Crossing Big Creek on the pack bridge

Crossing Big Creek on the pack bridge

Warm light settles onto the forest floor

Warm light settles onto the forest floor

Big Creek is a well-worn path for the first 2 miles

Big Creek is a well-worn path for the first 2 miles

Pastel softness of early summer

Pastel softness of early summer

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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