Montana Outdoors

August 7, 2014

Along Trail 345

This old trail has been de-commissioned by the Forest Service but it still exists and I walk along parts of it when I can. Something of interest seems always to be there.

Trail 345


Fireweed ~ Epilobium angustifolium

Fireweed garden


Thimbleberries (Rubus parviflorus) are ripening

Thimbleberry blossoms

Thimbleberry blossoms (From my archives)


Pinedrops ~ Pterospora andromrdea


Pinedrops are saprophytic perennials, without chlorophyl or green leaves. You have to look closely at them to tell if they are newly blossoming or dried from the previous year.

Northern Green Bog Orchid

Northern Green Bog Orchid ~ Platanthera huronensis

Northern Green Bog Orchid

Bog orchids can easily be overlooked.

Pine White on Goldenrod

Pine white butterfly ~ Neophasia menapia


  1. Rewarding trail, even if it’s no longer maintained. One never knows what wonders one will find in such places.


    Comment by Malcolm R. Campbell — August 7, 2014 @ 10:55 pm

    • This one seems to contain habitat for a number of orchids and saprophytes as well as a diversity of berries. While the Forest Service has abandoned it, the Back Country Horsemen seem to have adopted it and have been maintaining it. I hope they continue because it’s one of my favorites and I believe it is used a lot by wildlife, giving them a fairly safe corridor for traveling between two important mountain areas (connecting the Baldy Mountain roadless area and the tee Pee/Spring Creek roadless area).

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — August 7, 2014 @ 11:07 pm

      • Nice to have the horses and wildlife
        helping with on going “trail maintenance.”


        Comment by Malcolm R. Campbell — August 10, 2014 @ 7:20 am

        • It is! I first found that trail by following elk tracks along what I thought was a game trail until I found signs that it was actually maintained at one time. It is no longer on Forest Service maps, but I have a copy of a map of the Lolo National Forest printed in 1956 that shows where it ran then.


          Comment by montucky — August 10, 2014 @ 9:30 am

  2. Your photos are so gorgeous, it is hard to not leave your heart in such places.


    Comment by Charlie@Seattle Trekker — August 7, 2014 @ 11:02 pm

    • I do have a deep love for places like this and I’m fortunate to be close enough to this one that I can visit often and even when others are inaccessible.


      Comment by montucky — August 7, 2014 @ 11:15 pm

  3. Wow, how lovely – the bog orchid is beautiful, and I’ve never heard of thimbleberries! Are they good to eat? Fireweed is everywhere here, too, at the moment – loads of its fluffy seeds drifting around.


    Comment by Jo Woolf — August 8, 2014 @ 12:53 am

    • Thimbleberries are delicious, somewhat like a raspberry, but their flesh is very thin. They are my wife’s favorites.


      Comment by montucky — August 8, 2014 @ 8:12 am

  4. The thimbleberries look interesting. Can you eat them?
    Lovely shot of the Pine White Butterfly too.


    Comment by Vicki — August 8, 2014 @ 1:47 am

    • Yes, Thimbleberries are excellent. Butterflies just seem to be everywhere here now, like an explosion.


      Comment by montucky — August 8, 2014 @ 8:13 am

  5. Amazing variety of plants along that trail, really lovely


    Comment by Mike Howe — August 8, 2014 @ 2:39 am

    • There is something about the location of that trail that attracts a huge number of plant species (and animal species too), much to my delight. It’s a fairly long trail, quite close to home and very seldom used by people. (My kind of place!)


      Comment by montucky — August 8, 2014 @ 8:16 am

  6. Particularly liked the shot of the Pine White butterfly.


    Comment by centralohionature — August 8, 2014 @ 3:32 am

    • They seem to have exploded in numbers in the last week or so, maybe because of the blooming of goldenrod which they really like.


      Comment by montucky — August 8, 2014 @ 8:17 am

  7. Nice trail, and very interesting, unknown for me, berries.


    Comment by bentehaarstad — August 8, 2014 @ 4:55 am

    • I love the blossoms and the fruit too of Thimbleberries, and especially the places in which they thrive.


      Comment by montucky — August 8, 2014 @ 8:19 am

  8. What a beautiful spot!
    Judging by the clearing and the fireweed I’d guess that the area is recovering from a fire. I’ve never heard of the pine drops but the northern green bog orchid is very similar the the northern club spur orchid (Platanthera clavellata v. Ophioglossoides) that I showed in my last post.
    The thimbleberry is an old, old favorite that we call flowering raspberry.


    Comment by New Hampshire Garden Solutions — August 8, 2014 @ 5:05 am

    • I’d never heard the name “Flowering Raspberry”, but it’s a good one. That clearing was cause by the reckless logging of a section of timber in the middle of the National forest. It was part of the vast public land tracts that were given to the railroads as an incentive to build their routes through here. Many folks (including myself) think those old grants were illegal acts of reckless and politicians back in that era. We are now living with some of the repercussions.


      Comment by montucky — August 8, 2014 @ 8:23 am

  9. You know what I love about you, Montucky? You always take the time to enjoy nature’s beauty and find such interesting treasures to share with us. It’s exactly what we need in this frenzied, chaotic world of ours. Oh, and I loved the butterfly too!


    Comment by Mama's Empty Nest — August 8, 2014 @ 6:07 am

    • I hike, usually not to get to any place in particular, but just to be where that trail is. There is a new perspective available to a person who spends time alone exploring (and marveling at) the back country.


      Comment by montucky — August 8, 2014 @ 8:26 am

  10. Very nice!! I always learn something interesting and I so enjoy seeing your world without doing the hike! Thanks and hugs


    Comment by Beth — August 8, 2014 @ 7:02 am

    • Thanks Beth! When I see a comment like yours I’m thankful again for the invention of the camera!


      Comment by montucky — August 8, 2014 @ 8:27 am

  11. Many people would walk by and not notice these things. For that matter, many people would not even notice that trail.


    Comment by wordsfromanneli — August 8, 2014 @ 7:17 am

    • Anneli, I cherish every bit of what the wild country is and contains. I’m so often sad at the knowledge that despite my best efforts I see and understand only a small part of it.


      Comment by montucky — August 8, 2014 @ 8:29 am

      • You’re right. There is so much more out there. You’ll have to explore the rest in your next lifetimes. There’s a good reason to wish that reincarnation is true. I don’t believe it myself but it’s a nice thought. At least you’re making the most of the life you have.


        Comment by wordsfromanneli — August 8, 2014 @ 8:50 am

  12. One of my favorite Michigan companies has thimbleberry preserves in stock this year. It’s awfully pricey, which is to be expected, given the difficulty of finding thimbleberries, but I just might buy a jar and look at your photos while I have some on a biscuit! I’m interested in what looks like a depression down the middle of each segment of the berry. I don’t remember ever seeing that in blackberries or raspberries. They look like grains of barley.


    Comment by shoreacres — August 8, 2014 @ 5:22 pm

    • Yes, that depression on the berry is interesting and I think unique to the thimbleberry.
      I can’t even begin to imagine picking enough of them to get a jar full, let alone enough to sell. Even growing them in a large area commercially gathering them would be an enormous task! Better to pick Huckleberries.


      Comment by montucky — August 8, 2014 @ 8:23 pm

  13. What a beautiful hike. It’s nice that that group is maintaining the trail and yet keeping it something of a secret so the plants and animals can run and grow free.


    Comment by Candace — August 8, 2014 @ 10:47 pm

    • I was surprised to see that they still do use that trail, but pretty happy about it. They use it very infrequently and I think hardly anyone else uses it at all.


      Comment by montucky — August 9, 2014 @ 10:37 am

  14. It’s good to see all those native species, and I expect you felt the same way.


    Comment by Steve Schwartzman — August 9, 2014 @ 3:28 pm

    • Yes, those are the ones I like best, and here it isn’t very difficult to get away from the domestic plants by going into the roadless areas, especially at the higher elevations.

      The goldenrod does seem to be a few weeks early this year.


      Comment by montucky — August 9, 2014 @ 9:20 pm

  15. Oh, and that appears to be goldenrod already at the beginning of August.


    Comment by Steve Schwartzman — August 9, 2014 @ 3:30 pm

  16. That seem to be a beautiful path to walk along … interesting plants … Fireweed is a plant we have where I live too …
    My favourite photo is your last! … // Maria 🙂


    Comment by mariayarri — August 10, 2014 @ 6:38 am

    • It is. It has significance as a wildlife corridor and as a source for finding a huge diversity of plant life.


      Comment by montucky — August 10, 2014 @ 9:31 am

  17. Nice photos, Terry…such an alluring trail you have there, too. Why does the NFS decommission the trails? Lack of use?

    I used to see the Fireweed and Thimbleberries in Utah, but haven’t come across any down here yet, but will have my eyes open for them when I get into the forests up north again.


    Comment by seekraz — August 11, 2014 @ 7:42 am

    • This trail was decommissioned because it crosses several sections of private land owned by Plum Creek Timber. When Plumb creek logs their tracts they destroy all vegetation and obliterate the trails. Even though there is dome kind of agreement on trails between Plum Creek and the USFS it is too difficult and costly to reestablish the trails. I’m very afraid that the USFS will eliminate more trails because of lack of funds for trail management. It will be a shame because most of the trails here were created in the 1930’s for access to fire lookouts and are real treasures for those who like to get up into the high country on foot or horseback.


      Comment by montucky — August 11, 2014 @ 10:09 am

  18. What a stunningly beautiful place to walk … the top photo of the path is so enticing.


    Comment by Teresa Evangeline — August 13, 2014 @ 8:11 am

    • I keep returning to that area and always find something wonderful. Today I was on the top end of that trail, about 2000 feet higher, in some delightful clouds that were forming rain within themselves.


      Comment by montucky — August 14, 2014 @ 7:26 pm

  19. Hi Montucky, I like the picture of the Pinedrops. I also favor that butterfly shot. Glad you still meander down that trail. Have a great day today!


    Comment by wildlifewatcher — August 13, 2014 @ 8:55 am

    • I’m glad that you liked seeing the photos. I wish you could see that place for yourself!


      Comment by montucky — August 14, 2014 @ 7:27 pm

  20. Beautiful photos. I love especially the photo presenting Thimbleberries. They are new to me, beacuse they are not found in Finland.


    Comment by Sartenada — August 17, 2014 @ 1:17 am

    • Thimbleberries are found in mountainous areas along small streams. Their large blossoms attract lots of insects.


      Comment by montucky — August 17, 2014 @ 9:02 am

  21. Your picture of thimbleberries just let me identify one of the unknowns from my recent trip. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Steve Schwartzman — October 21, 2017 @ 6:47 am

    • They are very common here and produce a fruit that resembles a raspberry. The fruit is very thin, but has a marvelous taste. It was my wife’s favorite fruit.


      Comment by montucky — October 21, 2017 @ 8:40 am

      • That must be a pleasant memory.
        Here we have Rubus trivialis, known as dewberry, whose fruit we’ve occasionally gathered by the pound.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Steve Schwartzman — October 21, 2017 @ 9:09 am

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