Montana Outdoors

June 20, 2008

The longest three mile trail in Montana (Part 1)

It began yesterday and will continue tomorrow (at least the posting part of it).

It’s time to replenish the firewood supply for winter and we’ve been working quite diligently on doing just that. Early yesterday morning I tackled the job of splitting and stacking the last of the wood my son and I have hauled down from the high country and before noon it was all split and stacked: three full cords so far; 15,000 pounds of beautiful, dry, hard lodgepole pine.

As a reward to myself for swinging a 6 pound splitting axe for three hours, I then decided a ride on the Wing would do very nicely and so headed for a spot about thirty miles away, combining the ride with taking a look for the trail head of a trail I’ve been wanting to hike. It’s a trail (USFS trail 205) which travels right through the middle of the Patrick’s Knob roadless area with the top at 5,000 feet at the high ridge of the Coeur d’Alene Mountains and the bottom along the Clark Fork River at 2,500 feet. I had hiked just a little of the top end but didn’t know exactly where it came out at the bottom, and I had planned to hike it from the top down. According to the Forest Service, the trail is three miles long.

Finding the trail head turned out to be an easy thing to do and I hiked a mile or so of the lower part of the trail and headed home a little after one. About ten miles east of the town near where I live I could see a huge column of smoke above town and I immediately headed for our Rural Fire headquarters. Turns out there were two houses burning and I then spent four hours battling those blazes. It all made for a long day!

Today I hiked the trail from the bottom to the top and back down. I knew what the change of altitude would be, but I’ll guarantee that whoever in the Forest Service decided it was a three mile long trail has never hiked it! I’ll describe it a little more next post and show a few more photos, but for now, here’s one of a pretty little wildflower I have never seen before. There are a few growing in one small area along trail 205 at an elevation of about 4,500 feet.

Tricolor Monkeyflower, mimulus tricolorUnidentified


  1. beautiful flowers;


    Comment by Nischiz — June 21, 2008 @ 5:14 am

  2. Looks like a “fun” hike. Quite an adventure.


    Comment by scienceguy288 — June 21, 2008 @ 10:47 am

  3. Perhaps it’s three miles as the crow flies, not as the hiker/photographer/firefighter hikes.


    Comment by wolf — June 21, 2008 @ 11:58 am

  4. They certainly are, Sumedh! I’ve never seen anything like them before.


    Comment by montucky — June 21, 2008 @ 12:15 pm

  5. Scienceguy,

    That’s a hike only for someone conditioned to back country hiking. Beautiful but exhausting.


    Comment by montucky — June 21, 2008 @ 12:16 pm

  6. Wolf,

    Probably, if you could get a crow to fly up that high: they’re pretty smart, you know. I’m sure the milage was carefully calculated by some USFS desk pilot who casually glanced at a map. It really is difficult to measure distances on trails though: I don’t know how it could be done accurately.


    Comment by montucky — June 21, 2008 @ 12:28 pm

  7. What a great flower, and I love its name. Sounds like a long day of maybe a few too many adventures. Bet you slept well after all that!


    Comment by Bo — June 21, 2008 @ 4:36 pm

  8. Seeing the flower was, by itself, enough to justify the hike. Yes I slept well. It’s good to do that sometimes. Glad I did that yesterday: today’s temp was nearly 90.


    Comment by montucky — June 21, 2008 @ 6:57 pm

  9. Beautiful monkeyflower photo! Sounds like a busy couple of days. Splitting 3 cords of wood = uggh!


    Comment by Adam R. Paul — June 23, 2008 @ 9:08 am

  10. Thanks Adam! Actually I like splitting wood. It’s good exercise and since our wood stove heats our whole house my annual heating cost (mostly diesel used for hauling wood) is around $150.


    Comment by montucky — June 23, 2008 @ 10:10 am

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