Montana Outdoors

October 3, 2008

Trail of the big pines

During the summer I heard of a new trail being created to connect to USFS trail 385 to Sacajawea Peak. Because the weather forecast for tomorrow is for a 100% chance of rain, I decided to try the new trail today and found it to be a beautiful trail, although quite aggressive. Today’s hike took me from the trail head at 3450 feet to 5252 feet at the three mile point which looks to be about three miles and 1500 feet below the peak. The folks from the Ranger District have done a fantastic job building this trail! What an amazing amount of work they have done!

While it’s always exhilarating to be on a high country trail, this one is especially thrilling because of the quantity of very large Ponderosa pines spread all along it. Fifty years ago it was fairly common to see pines this size but today they are very rare. It’s hard to express how wonderful it was to see them today!

Here are a few photos. I measured one of the largest (it’s in the next to last photo) at 143 inches in circumference (3 feet 9 1/2 inches in diameter).

Large pines

Large pines

Large pines

Large pines

Large pines

Large pines


  1. I love these big old trees. I have visited Hartwick Pines in Michigan several times. I really enjoy walking through the massive old white pines there.

    Hartwick Pines

    I think in Montana you are fortunate to have such vast areas of natural mostly-unspoiled beauty. With any luck, the political climate will change and the wilderness areas throughout our nation will be restored and protected once again.


    Comment by Tabbie — October 3, 2008 @ 10:37 pm

  2. Tabbie, thanks for those links. I found them interesting!

    The more I wander through Montana’s back country, the more I realize how fragile it really is, and though it seems immense, it is not. There have been inroads of exploitation almost everywhere and there is now more pressure than ever before to continue. There is a Montana attitude that the natural resources here are solely for Montanans to use and squander as they have for over a hundred years. Like everywhere else, I suppose, folks here don’t understand how rare and precious the natural world is and don’t realize that is it up to us to conserve it.


    Comment by montucky — October 3, 2008 @ 10:55 pm

  3. love ’em! The textures on the barks are amazing! šŸ™‚


    Comment by Sumedh — October 4, 2008 @ 1:04 am

  4. Nice walking stick. Gonna have to get me one of those.


    Comment by Pinhole — October 4, 2008 @ 9:22 am

  5. Sumedh,

    Their age and size bring out their character. The largest ones are probably over 200 years old.


    Comment by montucky — October 4, 2008 @ 9:33 am

  6. Pinhole,

    If you hike much, you should. They’re indispensable in rough country. That’s a new one this summer and it’s Black Hawthorn, one of the hardest woods I’ve ever seen. (And here, you probably thought it was whittled out of one of those Ponderosas!)


    Comment by montucky — October 4, 2008 @ 9:45 am

  7. I would love to climb that old guy. I am going tree climbing again this sunday and am trying to set up a helmet cam rig.


    Comment by scienceguy288 — October 4, 2008 @ 10:50 am

  8. The helmet cam should be interesting! Good luck with it!


    Comment by montucky — October 4, 2008 @ 4:55 pm

  9. Oh those pines!,….. what beauties!


    Comment by Cedar — October 4, 2008 @ 5:00 pm

  10. Aren’t they! They give me a feeling of solidity, with their size and age.


    Comment by montucky — October 4, 2008 @ 7:05 pm

  11. Oh, those pines are *gorgeous*! I love being under trees and having them around me. And they’re huge.

    And it’s so cool that the forest service built a whole new trail out there. But what a *lot* of work!


    Comment by Sara — October 5, 2008 @ 6:46 pm

  12. this looks like a fun hike too!

    my, what big trees you have!


    Comment by silken — October 5, 2008 @ 7:18 pm

  13. Sara,

    The trail isn’t quite complete, but still usable. Yes, it’s an incredible amount of work, all by hand after hiking up each day. This was an easy year for fires and so the fire crew was able to put in a lot of work there. A lot of it is done with pulaskis, similar to digging a fire line and I can attest to how much work that is!


    Comment by montucky — October 5, 2008 @ 8:11 pm

  14. Silken,

    I know you would enjoy this trail. I wish you had easy access to trails like this for some of your conditioning. You would love it!


    Comment by montucky — October 5, 2008 @ 8:12 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: