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!


  1. Beautiful Terry, the first and last image are especially strong to me, the views are amazing, wonderful work 🙂


    Comment by Bernie Kasper — January 13, 2008 @ 4:56 pm

  2. This place can drive you crazy. I took a short hike and shot over 30 photos, and that was on a day with no sun at all. The only requirement is to get outside and see it! Something beautiful almost always awaits.


    Comment by montucky — January 13, 2008 @ 5:59 pm

  3. Great shots of a beautiful area!


    Comment by Adam R. Paul — January 14, 2008 @ 12:35 am

  4. Every day… you make me want to be there! These are beautiful scenes… I wish it would snow.


    Comment by winterwoman — January 14, 2008 @ 5:25 am

  5. The first word to come to mind was ‘pristine’.

    Great shots!


    Comment by Pinhole — January 14, 2008 @ 7:23 am

  6. Thanks, Adam! The fishing’s still pretty good in there, too!


    Comment by montucky — January 14, 2008 @ 10:26 am

  7. winterwoman,

    I sense that you, like me, would never take this natural beauty for granted!

    I share your wish for snow. We are in about the 9th year of a drought here, but it has been reported that presently the snowpack up high is 112% of normal, which is the first time since ’97 that I remember hearing that. It’s early though: our snow doesn’t peak until April.


    Comment by montucky — January 14, 2008 @ 10:31 am

  8. Pinhole,

    It’s close to it, and that’s why I wish so much for it to be protected under the Wilderness Act. I think we desperately need places like this where we can drop anchor for awhile and remember the Earth as it should be.


    Comment by montucky — January 14, 2008 @ 10:36 am

  9. I do envy the places you have to explore, montucky! Your photos allow me the chance to “imagine” what might be down one of those trails or just around the next bend. Thank you!


    Comment by Janet Wilkins — January 14, 2008 @ 1:07 pm

  10. Janet, a big part of the thrill of exploring is exactly that; finding out what might be around the next bend. One never knows for sure, but it always seems to be interesting or beautiful. Today I was only about 20 miles from where these photos were taken and found myself following wolf tracks!


    Comment by montucky — January 14, 2008 @ 7:19 pm

  11. winter wonderland! wow! I like that first picture but that third one is really nice. and the one of the foot bridge makes me want to join you on your next hike! the last two shots aren’t bad either! 🙂


    Comment by silken — January 16, 2008 @ 2:40 pm

  12. Yes, that little foot bridge does extend an invitation. Most of the trail that I covered was quite friendly. I’m anxious to get back there, but the weather the last few days hasn’t been the best for that area. I don’t know how much you’d like that area now, but I’ll bet you’d love it in the summer!


    Comment by montucky — January 16, 2008 @ 4:17 pm

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