Montana Outdoors

April 30, 2008

Burgess Lake, an April visit

Filed under: Montana, Nature, Outdoors, Photography, Photos, Pictures, Wildflowers — Tags: — montucky @ 10:08 pm

Early in May I first visited Burgess Lake and it seemed like a good place to visit again today to perhaps see what spring was doing up there.

For some reason I had forgotten just how steep the little trail was and felt pretty happy that it was short. It’s not a great hike for those who have an aversion to “up”. It occurred to me that if you were to go into the main floor of a 40 story building, find the stairs and then climb them to the top you would find the exertion similar, although you’d need some very loose rock on the stairs and a few downed trees strewn across them to create a more accurate effect.

Today the ice that completely covered the lake in March was gone and the signs of spring were everywhere. This first view at the top of the trail

Burgess Lake

seemed like an invitation to visit the opposite end, which turned out to be serendipitous because on the way I encountered a Serviceberry which had just begun to show its first blossoms of the new spring.

Serviceberry blossom

Once at the other end, the view of the lake from there was also quite pleasant

Burgess Lake

and the high country above the lake still has not forgotten what winter is all about.

Above Burgess Lake

In my visit in March I discovered the first buttercups of this spring, and it seemed to fit that on today’s trip I would discover the first Shooting Stars of this year there too

Shooting Star

including this unusual five-headed one.

Shooting Star

I have to admit that I had another reason to visit the lake today and that was to find a Diamondback or two, but seeing the new flowers in bloom made up for the disappointment of finding out that the rattlers have not come out of their winter dens yet.

(Burgess Lake is located just above the lower Flathead River in western Montana about a hundred miles south of Glacier Park and is on the Flathead Indian Reservation.)


  1. Those shooting stars are beautiful! What a lovely flower. And what a lovely lake!

    Better luck on spotting (safely) a Diamondback next time. I look forward to hearing about it when you do.


    Comment by Sara — May 1, 2008 @ 8:26 am

  2. Sara,

    The Shooting Star was my favorite flower when I was a boy and I still get excited when they begin blooming in the spring.

    Burgess is a lonely little lake. Lots of folks have heard of it but very few ever visit there. I enjoy the solitude and the beauty of the lake and its surroundings. Its a good place to just sit and enjoy knowing that you will not be interrupted.


    Comment by montucky — May 1, 2008 @ 9:23 am

  3. That’s a pretty interesting shooting star (at least to me) πŸ™‚ I think it might be the dark throated version. Very pretty! We have an isolated lake like that too called summit lake very high in the mts… and only one accessible road. However, when I get into the roadless areas the lakes we have no fish. πŸ™‚ (The rangers I guess don’t stock lakes that it takes six miles to hike too and maybe the eagles even clean out the minnows? I dunno but they are completely empty!) These are my favorite kinds of lakes… the most you’ll ever see is one campfire pit. Your lake has a beautiful view.


    Comment by aullori — May 1, 2008 @ 11:24 am

  4. Beautiful picturees, well worth all the UP parts of the trail. Shooting Stars are also a special treat.



    Comment by knightofswords — May 1, 2008 @ 1:43 pm

  5. Lori,

    The Shooting Stars are just beginning now and will be around here for over a month at the different elevations. I always enjoy them!

    Burgess Lake should have fish in it because it was stocked a few years ago. Because it’s on a reservation though, a special permit is required and I might get one later and try it.


    Comment by montucky — May 1, 2008 @ 4:52 pm

  6. Malcolm,

    It’s a very pleasant spot this time of year. Later in the summer I think it will be pretty hot there once you get out of the ravine that the trail goes up.

    I’m seeing a few more flowers almost every day now, but most are still buried under the snow. I wanted to get out somewhere today and see what’s new in the wildflower world but went out on a fire instead. (It’s going to be a long summer!)


    Comment by montucky — May 1, 2008 @ 4:56 pm

  7. That five-headed flower is pretty wild looking. The lake looks beautiful; I’m sure that’s a great place for a hike. Is it glacial?


    Comment by scienceguy288 — May 1, 2008 @ 6:15 pm

  8. The lake isn’t actually a glacial lake. It’s over 200 feet deep but has no input stream our outlet stream: besides a little snow melt, it’s entirely spring-fed.

    This whole area here was impacted by glacial activity though and the buildup and draining of Glacial Lake Missoula. In fact, directly across the Flathead river from the lake can be seen a huge gravel bank over 500 feet above the existing river that was deposited there during the last draining of Lake Missoula.


    Comment by montucky — May 1, 2008 @ 7:48 pm

  9. Lovely photos, and I agree w/Lori that the Shooting Stars are very interesting. Definitely a different species of them than we have here!


    Comment by Adam R. Paul — May 2, 2008 @ 8:15 am

  10. You know, until Lori mentioned the difference in species of the Shooting Stars I hadn’t even known there were different species. Hadn’t even thought about it I guess because I’ve always only seen the one.


    Comment by montucky — May 2, 2008 @ 3:20 pm

  11. nice first view!

    and I love those shooting stars! I would definitely prefer to see picts of them over any diamond back any day!!! glad you had these to share and not the other! πŸ™‚


    Comment by silken — May 2, 2008 @ 6:27 pm

  12. These Shooting Stars are exceptional. I’ve seen lots this spring but none as nice of these which grow in a place where one wouldn’t expect them.


    Comment by montucky — May 2, 2008 @ 6:49 pm

  13. First I’d prefer your trail to a 40 story climb in a building stairwell – especially if the stairs were sprinkled with debris, and probably not the kind of debris you see. I’m thinking of crushed coke cans and newspapers. πŸ™‚ Been there, done that – way too many times.

    Second, I’ve always loved the serviceberry, and especially its name. I learned its pronunciation as “sarrr-vuhz-berry” both first and second syllable accented. Is that how you say it? Sorry if this is a little esoteric, but I’ve always loved its sound when said like that. And I’m always startled when someone pronounces it the way it looks.


    Comment by Bo — May 3, 2008 @ 11:46 am

  14. I’ll bet you’d prefer the trail too! No debris at all on this one.

    Yes, that’s the way we pronounce it. I can still remember when I was a kid and I learned to spell it: I was surprised! I really like the fruit when it gets good and ripe. I’ve made many a meal from those berries and the bears do too as well as birds and I’m sure other animals too.


    Comment by montucky — May 3, 2008 @ 12:54 pm

  15. We have the shooting stars as well here Terry, but they are all white, this really nice work !!


    Comment by Bernie Kasper — May 8, 2008 @ 9:14 pm

  16. What an interesting difference. I bet the white ones are pretty! I’ve not seen one.


    Comment by montucky — May 8, 2008 @ 9:32 pm

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