Quick afternoon Blue Mountain Lookout jaunt

For those of us that live in western Montana, we are extremely fortunate to have so many great hiking destinations in such close proximity to our homes. Blue Mountain stands over Missoula, and on top of its forested slopes is a little-used fire lookout. The hike to the summit is a rather quick 1.9 miles… Read more »

Hike to Glen Lake (with extension to No Name Lake)

Through a forest of gray spires, the hike to Glen Lake offered us the immense vistas of the Bitterroot Mountains. I have also enjoyed the Glen Lake hike as it is relatively easy and a cruise. The biggest plus is the short additional hike to No Name Lake, a small, shallow pond that sits in… Read more »

Evening hike along Bass Creek

O! Bass Creek, how I love thee? Is that flowery enough? But seriously, I love hiking the Bass Creek drainage with its proximity to my home and the vistas that abound on this trail. On this evening, I was joined by my two favorite hiking partners, Vida and Jeff. They are my favorites because they graciously… Read more »

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… Read more »

Scooting up Skookum Butte

It has been 2 years since I have made the short hike to the historic lookout atop Skookum Butte. This time, Vida joined me, well, she rather tolerated me as my hiking speed was limited to a crawl due to a cause of bronchitis and asthma (together in some kind of oxygen-deprived stew of disease)…. Read more »

Camas Lake in the Bitterroots

Hiking into Camas Lake is one of the most enjoyable hikes in the Bitterroot Mountains. The nearly 3 miles to the first lake features some great stream crossings under a dense canopy. The trail switchbacks up a slope that has massive slabs of granite. Reaching the lake, we immediately noticed numerous trout jumping at a… Read more »

Cruising through the Ninemile Valley

Vida and I decided to take a quick cruise through the Ninemile Valley (located west of Missoula) to hike the Grand Menard Discovery Trail (actually more of a stroll) and fly the DJI Phantom 4 over a few of the picturesque meadows of the valley. The meadows were covered with common camas, meadow buttercup, and… Read more »

Chaffin Butte – Is It a Summit???

Chaffin Butte or the “C” Hill stands above Corvallis and is accessed via an easement through private property. The flanks of the hill are covered with big sagebrush and scattered stunted ponderosa pine. The soils are rocky and dry, and the plant life can be likened to those communities found in the Big Hole Valley… Read more »

Awesome Spring Hike – Bear Creek Falls

Taking full advantage of the terrific spring weather on Saturday, we hiked to and beyond Bear Creek Falls on the Bitterroots. Only a short and relatively easy 1.5 miles from the trailhead, Bear Creek Falls is one of the most picturesque waterfalls in the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana. I have made the trip to this… Read more »

Spring Arrives in the Rockies

This past weekend was definitely the start of the Montana spring with sun, rain, and snow…you know, spring in the Bitterroot. The Lee Metcalf NWR was alive with Great Horned Owls hooting and Red-winged Blackbirds carrying on.

  • Hiking 2016

    Sweathouse Falls Hike – Winter Edition

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    Sweathouse Falls has always been my favorite water in the Bitterroot Mountains with its stream falls off a sheer face. Another reason that this hike is among my favorites is its relatively little use (i.e. no people). This time around, Jeff and I hiked to the falls with a fresh layer of powder snow. As… Read more »

  • Hiking 2016

    Rock Creek and the Welcome Creek Suspension Bridge

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    The other day, I was wanting to fly the DJI Phantom 4 drone at a new location, so decided on driving 14 miles up Rock Creek (east of Missoula, Montana) to video the Welcome Creek Suspension Bridge. The bridge crosses Rock Creek as a major access to the tiny Welcome Creek Wilderness Area. In fact,… Read more »

  • Hiking 2016

    1st Day of Winter at Glade Creek, Lolo Pass

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    The first day of winter and the sunset suggests a slightly longer day than the one before. I flew the DJI Phantom 4 over Glade Creek at Lolo Pass to capture the Seussian play of pillows of deep powder snow and low angle light. Grab the image below to view a 360-degree immersive images.

  • Hiking 2016

    Wallman Trail – Rattlesnake Recreation Area

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    Winter hiking offers the bundled hiker the opportunity for solitude and challenge. The solitude comes from the lack of other intrepid souls and the snow dampening any ambient sound. The depth of the snow and unsure footing creates a scenario that can be challenging, especially when breaking trail on a steep slope. So, we took… Read more »

  • Hiking 2016

    The Waterfalls of Blodgett Canyon

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    The last time I hiked through the deep Blodgett Canyon, it was nearly 90 degrees and the sun was brutal. This time, winter was starting to creep into this ancient glacially-carved drainage. Blodgett Canyon is home to towering granite cliffs, gigantic moraine boulders, and 2 dramatic waterfalls. The falls are relatively close to one another and they… Read more »

  • Hiking 2016

    Sawmill Trail 24.1 – Rattlesnake National Recreation Area

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    Once again, we headed into the Rattlesnake national Recreation Area for an 8-mile loop hike on the Sawmill Trail 24.1 and down Curry Gulch. The day was absolutely brilliant with warm temperatures and bright sunshine. The trail basically gains a ridge and follows that ridge all the way to Stuart Peak, but we turned off… Read more »

  • Hiking 2016

    Rattlesnake Recreation Area: Curry Cabin and Sawmill Gulch

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    Even though the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area is immediately adjacent to Missoula, it is an area that I have explored very seldom. Curry Cabin is a place that I have read about in the guidebooks and blog posts, but it was unvisited…until now that is. Curry Cabin lies at the head of Curry Gulch (imagine… Read more »

  • Hiking 2016

    Big Creek during the extended Autumn

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    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… Read more »

  • Hiking 2016

    Jerry Johnson Hot Springs – Over Loved and Under Appreciated

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    Jerry Johnson Hot Springs is gorgeous, accessible, and, often, over-loved. From Highway 12 about 10 miles from the thriving metropolis of Powell, Idaho, you cross the Lochsa River on a pack bridge and continue along the trail for almost a mile and a half. The trail parallels Warm Springs Creek (apropos name) under a canopy… Read more »

  • Hiking 2016

    Lake Como – Circumambulation

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    Lake Como, not the Italian one either, is nestled in the Rock Creek drainage in the Bitterroot Mountains. While actually a reservoir, Lake Como is nonetheless stunning, and the fact that there is a trail that encircles the entirety of the shoreline and a massive cascade at the west end of the lake makes this… Read more »

  • Hiking 2016

    Weir Hot Springs

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    Weir Hot Springs is the secret that is, well, not much of a secret with the locals folks and, increasingly, travelers. Located along Highway 12 in Idaho roughly 20 miles west of Lowell (known for the terrific Lochsa Lodge), the hot springs are roughly a mile hike along Weir Creek to several pools, although the… Read more »

  • Hiking 2016

    Bear Creek Falls

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    Late autumn hikes afford you the opportunity to capture the timeless nature of things. This is Bear Creek Falls in the Bitterroot Mountains, one of my personal favorite spots that can be reached in an afternoon. The trail follows Bear Creek on the south side as it alternatively cascades over boulders and peaceful sections that… Read more »

  • Hiking 2016

    Flying over Blodgett Canyon in the Bitterroot Mountains

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    Blodgett Canyon cuts deep through the granite of the Bitterroot Mountains in Montana. The walls are nearly vertical, which is why the area is known to climbers. The canyon was carved out by ice age glaciers, which left behind the U-shaped valley and steeply carved granite cliffs. The glacial valley is carved into granitic rocks… Read more »

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    Kayaking on the Bitterroot River

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    It was a hot day, and to escape the heat, we took the kayaks down to the Bitterroot River for a 8 mile float. I brought along the GoPro Hero4 for a little scene capture. The sun shined above us, and below many trouts, whitefish, and other fish scattered from the shadow of the boats.

  • Hiking 2016

    Getting out before the storm: Saint Mary Peak

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    Atop Saint Mary Peak is a fire lookout that has seen the Roaring Lion Fire and hundreds of lightning strikes in the past few weeks. The hike to the top of this peak starts at a lofty 6800 feet, and well-traveled trail gains another 2500 feet to the summit. From the peak, the Bitterroot Mountains… Read more »