Montana Outdoors

January 13, 2008

U.S.F.S.trail # 223T, the beginning

Trail 223T appears to be a fairly easy and pleasant route to access at least the lower elevations of the South Siegel – South cutoff roadless area. I have just begun to explore this great looking trail and so far have just seen the first part of it. The first three photos were taken where it begins, at an elevation of 2560 feet along the Clark Fork river where Montana Highway 135 makes its only crossing of the river at the Fourteen Mile bridge. The high ground (6000 feet elevation) of the area can be seen at the skyline in the first one.

Clark Fork on the cutoff


Clark Fork on the cutoff


Clark Fork on the cutoff

It soon enters the forest and follows the course of the river upstream for 8 – 10 miles in the forest just above the river, staying just inside the lower (northern) boundary of the roadless area.

USFS trail #223

This is a beautiful piece of Lolo National forest consisting mostly of fir, pine and cedar with lush undergrowth and tiny seeps of water trickling down out of the high country above. The tracks on the log footbridge are those of deer and coyotes, both of whom are abundant here.

USFS trail # 223.

This section is a bit higher, 250 feet above the river where the trail climbs to get past the nearly vertical hillsides next to the river. The tracks in the photo are those of a cougar. I have not visited here before this winter, but I can imagine its summertime beauty!

USFS trail # 223

The following photos were taken from just off the trail as it winds through one of its higher sections. This is a heavily shaded section of trail and would be a wonderfully cool place for a leisurely hike during the mid-day heat of late summer.

The Clark Fork seen from trail 223.


The Clark Fork seen from trail 223

I plan to explore more of the trail in the next few days and will post more photos of what I encounter, but the trail conditions are not the best for hiking at the moment, with snow levels varying from a few inches to a foot: deep enough to make hiking difficult, but not deep enough for snowshoes. In such a pretty area though, and with no one else’s tracks anywhere around, I know it won’t be possible to stay away!

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