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


  1. Great looking country. Just enough snow left for a splash of white.



    Comment by knightofswords — April 3, 2008 @ 7:58 pm

  2. Yes, it’s nice to walk on bare ground most of the time again. That is a nice section of forest with a lot of old growth trees and some decent sized cedars. It’s only 13,872 acres, or a little over 21 square miles, which by itself probably isn’t enough to support a single cougar.

    At least now there is a little hiking room at the lower elevations! I’m happy!


    Comment by montucky — April 3, 2008 @ 9:23 pm

  3. These photos just make me want to saddle up and explore for days!!!


    Comment by Sandy — April 3, 2008 @ 10:03 pm

  4. This would be a good trail for horses, but there are many better. A few miles down the ridge to the left of the peak you can access a trail called the “CC Divide” trail, I think it’s trail 404 that’s great for the back country horse person. It is really a horse trail that goes along the divide for well over 20 miles through some spectacular scenery and ends up near the Lookout Pass ski area. I would think it would be best to do it over several days. I’ve hiked nearly a dozen miles of it and intend to do more if next summer if the fire situation permits. You would love that one!


    Comment by montucky — April 3, 2008 @ 10:19 pm

  5. sounds exciting! I think I remember your winter pict of that first trail


    Comment by silken — April 3, 2008 @ 10:25 pm

  6. Yes, I enjoyed that trip and at that point was pretty optimistic about the trail. It just occurred to me though that because it does parallel the river it might be worth a night or two down there on a fishing trip! There’s some very respectable trout in that stretch of river.


    Comment by montucky — April 3, 2008 @ 10:47 pm

  7. This looks fabulous – it’s nice to see your hiking again (tho I don’t think you or I officially stopped – like me they were probably just a tad bit shorter) I wandered around lake pierre yesterday and it was much like this… Thick woods.. I saw so little life and good sized patches of snow on the trail. (The only life I did see was a couple of canada geese and an eagle) other than that even the chickadees didn’t want anything to do with the area yet. 🙂 Today I spotted a mt. lion – who was hunting either a; deer or b; turkey. Sadly, he spotted me too! And thus hit the forest line… beautiful shots Terry. Gorgeous! Boy, did I miss it. Looks like you did too!


    Comment by aullori — April 4, 2008 @ 1:32 am

  8. Yes, it’s great to be out wandering around again. So far we’ve gained access to about a thousand feet here except in the areas that have shade all day. You were very lucky to see the lion! I only get to see them rarely and those are very special occasions!


    Comment by montucky — April 4, 2008 @ 8:09 am

  9. Now I’m curious – how much land does it take to support one cougar?


    Comment by Bo — April 4, 2008 @ 9:51 am

  10. That’s a hard question to answer. I’ve read that a male’s range may be anywhere from 10 to 50 square miles, and since they don’t seem to overlap their territory, a good guess would likely be somewhere in between. I’ve always thought it to be about 25 square miles. A female’s range is smaller, possibly half that of a male. I’m sure there are many other factors such as terrain and the density of their prey animals that alter the numbers. Any way you look at it, they need a pretty good sized area, and that’s another reason I get nervous when there are so many roads and other activity breaking up the wild spaces. They are running out of large contiguous areas into which they can retreat.


    Comment by montucky — April 4, 2008 @ 12:16 pm

  11. actually Montucky good answer!! 🙂


    Comment by aullori — April 4, 2008 @ 5:55 pm

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