Montana Outdoors

September 16, 2008

Chipmunk Creek trail

Yesterday we sawed out (cleared) USFS trail 688 through the bottom of Chipmunk Creek, which is another beautiful, clear and cold little stream that flows north from the CC Divide down into Prospect Creek and then east to the Clark Fork River near the town of Thompson Falls.

The lower part of Chipmunk Creek

Chipmunk Creek

The trail, while it is very pleasant to hike, stays well below the high ridges on either side, and I didn’t take many photos of the trail itself. However, I thought the base and roots of this large cedar were noteworthy, especially where it grew quite around a large rock.

Cedar tree

Because the trail was short and the blow-downs were all small, we cleared the trail by about noon and spent the rest of the day checking on trailheads from Chipmunk Creek on west to Thompson Pass at the Idaho border. Along the border, just barely on the Montana side is the CC Divide trail USFS 404 as it emerges from the back country and crosses the road right at the state line. The two mile section just to the southwest of the border is a gentle trail that gets a fair amount of traffic because it leads to Blossom Lake.

Trail 404 to Blossom Lake

Trail 404 to Blossom Lake

In the above photo, to the right of the trail, you can see the remains of a diversion ditch approximately four feet wide and four feet deep which was dug by Chinese laborers in 1883 to transport water across the state line from Blossom Lake over Thompson Pass to mining operations in Murray Idaho. Apparently it was never used however, because the dam at the mouth of Blossom Lake broke in 1887.

As this sign on trail 404 just off the highway points out, this area is habitat for Canadian Lynx, one of the rarest animals in the mountains of Idaho and Montana.

Canada Lynx habitat

From the continuation of trail 404 as it proceeds northeast of the highway, if you look back toward the northwest, you can look over the border, into the Idaho Panhandle National Forest and the Idaho mountains in the direction of Spokane Washington.

Northwest from Thompson Pass into Idaho

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