Montana Outdoors

April 3, 2008

April 2, Trail 223, the trail

When I first explored part of this trail back in January, it looked like it would provide a very scenic hike for about eight miles along the Clark Fork river while staying within the South Siegel – South Cutoff roadless area. Wednesday I hiked the first three miles and found it a little disappointing: I decided not to spend more time hiking further on that trail.

Trail 223 is a quite pleasant place for hiking, with beautiful wide stretches ambling between the trees, nearly all firs with a few pines sprinkled in among them and cedars in the bottoms of the small canyons which lead off into the high country,

Trail 223

stretches that had still had a fair amount of snow remaining,

Trail 223

and the canyons provide enough terrain relief to break up the monotony,

Trail 223

but both sides of the trail are forested to the extent that there are very few places where it is possible to get a good look at the surrounding country. I guess I’m spoiled and want to see the mountains and canyons in the distance and to be able to ascend to the high country and have the views that eagles have.

However, this hike did let me accomplish a secondary goal and that was to get a bit of a look into the south slope of the Patrick’s Knob – North Cutoff roadless area which is just across the river. In the next photo, taken through one of the gaps in the trees, the snow covered peak of Patrick’s Knob can be seen at about 4 miles away and five thousand feet above.

Patrick's Knob

From the high ridge that leads up to the peak there are two trails that lead down to the river. One (USFS trail 1714A) ambles off along the ridge to the right before it drops down and the top several miles should provide spectacular views of the entire area including the north slope of the South Sigel roadless area. Judging by the map it will be about nine miles from the peak to the river, including one mile of elevation change.

The second (USFS trail 215) is only about three miles long and descends abruptly from the left side of the peak almost directly down to the river. It will be a trail where you lace you boots up very tight and prepare for a ton of switchbacks on the way down!

I plan to hike both of these trails during the first part of the summer, probably late May or early June and photograph the trips. Besides the terrific views, there are a large number of Big Horn sheep who live in the area as well as black bear, cougar, deer, elk and moose.

The last photo provides a closer look at the peak and illustrates why it will be a couple more months before it will be possible to begin a hike from there.

Patrick's Knob

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