Montana Outdoors

February 28, 2009

In search of a trail (2)

Yesterday my son and I tried again to find the lower end of the Fourteen Mile trail (USFS trail 1714), this time in 4 inches of new snow, and tasted a little success with the discovery of some old blaze marks on a tree a few hundred feet above the river. We lost it soon after because of the snow but I’m sure now that with the appropriate topo maps I will be able to locate it, although not until most of the snow has melted.

The following photo illustrates why I want so much to find the trail. It was taken from about three miles from the Jeep and a thousand feet above the river, and the top of the trail is still several miles and 3,500 feet further up the mountain. I have to think the views from the upper reaches will be worth the climb.

Our companions at this point were five huge Big Horn rams who were also looking out over the river. The trail is in the Patrick’s Knob Roadless Area of western Montana’s Coeur d’Alene Mountains and the country across the river is in the South Siegel Roadless Area.

South Siegel Roadless Area


  1. I will be waiting to see those pictures when you get farther up there after the snow melts. I’ll bet they will be outstanding shots!


    Comment by Cedar — February 28, 2009 @ 11:21 am

    • They should be. Last fall when I was helping the Forest Service clear trails I covered the top three miles of that trail but at that point it was still in the trees and there weren’t many good views out. Another mile or so and there is open hillside and it should be possible to see up river on the Clark Fork as well as the Flathead rivers and the wild country beyond.


      Comment by montucky — February 28, 2009 @ 12:13 pm

  2. Wow. What a spectacular view. At least the trees are still green.


    Comment by scienceguy288 — February 28, 2009 @ 12:03 pm

    • Generally it is green, but you can see tinges of brown on some of the higher slopes where beetles have killed some trees. Sooner or later nature will take care of that with fire. It’s a little sad to think about, but that has been a part of the wild country for many thousands of years.


      Comment by montucky — February 28, 2009 @ 12:16 pm

  3. The view is breathtaking and if I thought I had 3500 more feet to climb I would be breathless…literally!!


    Comment by SuzieQ — February 28, 2009 @ 4:44 pm

    • Yes, that’s a lot of breaths. For a hike like that I like to start early in the morning. It’s about 10 hours on the trail for me and add another hour or two for just looking.


      Comment by montucky — February 28, 2009 @ 5:04 pm

  4. Oh, MAN that’s a gorgeous gorgeous picture!! That’s just *spectacular*!

    And yay for locating the bottom end of the trail!! That’s going to be fun for you to explore!


    Comment by gradschoolsara — February 28, 2009 @ 8:05 pm

    • I was excited about finding at least that much of the trail. I’ll check it out during the spring to be sure. You might like a hike from the top down next summer (late May or June). The views should be spectacular hiking down!


      Comment by montucky — February 28, 2009 @ 8:25 pm

  5. Beautiful scene. I can see why you want to find that trail. We have friends who live just outside of Acadia National Park in Maine (mountains there are on a whole different scale; tallest is only around 1500 ft) but they seem to have more success finding “lost” trails in the snow for some reason. Oh well.


    Comment by edvatza — March 1, 2009 @ 6:22 am

    • The problem with this trail is that the mid and lower parts of it cross some open country so there are no trees to carry blaze marks. Snow will cover the tread of a trail or disguise the subtle differences between a hiking or pack trail and elk and deer trails. The east slope has rock slides also and snow hides any trails across them. I doubt if anyone has visited this part of the trail for quite a few years, so it’s quite a challenge.


      Comment by montucky — March 1, 2009 @ 9:09 am

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