Montana Outdoors

October 25, 2015

Heart Lake (1); the trail

Heart Lake is the largest alpine lake on the Montana side of the northern Bitterroot Mountains, located in a cirque basin just below the Montana/Idaho divide in a huge area known as the Great Burn which is part of the three million acres that was burned in the fire of 1910. On October 22, I hiked up to it on the part of trail 171 that follows the South Fork of Trout Creek up from USFS road 250. Following are photos taken from along the trail. I will post photos of the lake itself in part (2).

At the Heart Lake trail head

Along the Heart Lake trail

Along the Heart Lake trail

Along the Heart Lake trail

Along the Heart Lake trail

Along the Heart Lake trail

Along the Heart Lake trail

Along the Heart Lake trail

Along the Heart Lake trail

Along the Heart Lake trail

Along the Heart Lake trail

Along the Heart Lake trail

Along the Heart Lake trail

Along the Heart Lake trail

Along the Heart Lake trail

Along the Heart Lake trail

Along the Heart Lake trail

Along the Heart Lake trail

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29 Comments »

  1. Definitely need to get out that way!

    Like

    Comment by centralohionature — October 25, 2015 @ 7:50 am

  2. That’s a wonderful trail, with so much variety. I like the footbridge, especially. The little falls are nice, too, and they’ve arranged the stepping stones across the stream very nicely. I swear when I look at these photos of yours, I can smell the clean air.

    Like

    Comment by shoreacres — October 25, 2015 @ 8:20 am

    • It’s a much more traveled trail than I prefer, but pretty at that. The wooden bridges are there, not to help hikers, but to protect the marshy areas from traffic. Hikers and horses would create a mud bog there in short order! I’m glad that they invested the time and money to build them! For as well known as that place is, I’m pleased that it hasn’t been damaged to any great extent!

      Like

      Comment by montucky — October 25, 2015 @ 9:35 am

  3. I can almost feel as if I’m breathing the air among those trees! And the odd larches here and there look like flames. What a lovely walk. Your photos are gorgeous, as always!

    Like

    Comment by Jo Woolf — October 25, 2015 @ 8:58 am

    • There is a huge amount of area there to explore, and this was my first hike into it. I will select more remote areas in the future, although I might make one more hike into that lake from another direction. The Great Burn is a proposed wilderness area of 252,000 acres, so there must be solitude to be found in it somewhere.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — October 25, 2015 @ 9:40 am

      • Wow – I look forward to whatever you discover. Thank you for taking us along with you!

        Like

        Comment by Jo Woolf — October 25, 2015 @ 10:00 am

        • It will be a pleasant experience for me and I will post photos of what I see. There probably won’t be a lot more time this year to explore, depending on the weather. That is heavy snow country.

          Liked by 1 person

          Comment by montucky — October 25, 2015 @ 10:16 am

          • I can imagine – we’ve had snow already on the mountains in the Highlands.

            Like

            Comment by Jo Woolf — October 25, 2015 @ 10:26 am

  4. I also had the strong response of being able to smell the forest from these gorgeous and vivid photos–I took a deep breath while I was looking at them. What are the reds and golden colors?–I don’t know these plants at all. What are the trees? Not too much up on plants in that area, would love to know more…..

    Like

    Comment by jpostol — October 25, 2015 @ 10:12 am

    • I am not as familiar with that area as I am with the Cabinet Mountain range near where I live. The trees appear to be all firs, of different species. The golden trees are Larch. It looks as though the Aspens have already lost their leaves. I really don’t know what the gold and red low bushes are, and I doubt that I will be able to identify them until next summer when I can see them with their normal foliage. The flora is certainly different there than in the Cabinets!

      Like

      Comment by montucky — October 25, 2015 @ 10:20 am

  5. That’s another beautiful trail. There must be good sources of moisture all along it to support so many mosses.
    Were the treeless areas cut or burned? Whatever it was took a lot of trees!

    Like

    Comment by New Hampshire Garden Solutions — October 25, 2015 @ 3:30 pm

    • It was very wet just about everywhere in that area. The wooden walks were necessary to preserve the marsh-like terrain in several places along the trail.

      The Great Burn is part of what was one of the largest forest fires ever, at 3 million acres. Not all has recovered yet.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — October 25, 2015 @ 7:22 pm

  6. Looks like a Cool Place to explore and photograph!

    Like

    Comment by Reed Andariese — October 25, 2015 @ 3:34 pm

    • It’s a huge area with lots of lakes and many miles of trails. My strategy will be to find the least traveled of the trails and spend my efforts there.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — October 25, 2015 @ 7:23 pm

  7. What a beautiful scenic trail. Interesting to see the boardwalks in some places. In our southern state of Tasmania, the Cradle Mountain National park is full of boardwalks so that hikers don’t crush the fragile ground cover and ecosystem.

    Like

    Comment by Vicki — October 25, 2015 @ 5:11 pm

    • The walks here were also to protect the marshy hillsides from feet and hooves. Without those it would have been a mud bog. I’m glad they built them. They appear to be fairly old too.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — October 25, 2015 @ 7:24 pm

  8. Hi Montucky, All of these pictures are gorgeous. I can’t decide which I like best but I am leaning toward those showing the orange and crimson hillsides. All are lovely. Have a great week!

    Like

    Comment by wildlifewatcher — October 25, 2015 @ 5:13 pm

    • I wish I could better show the scale of those hillsides: they are huge! Have a great week too!

      Like

      Comment by montucky — October 25, 2015 @ 7:25 pm

  9. Such an amazing and fun bit of the world; even more amazing how you can find yourself in such beautiful and remote parts of our country.

    Like

    Comment by Charlie@Seattle Trekker — October 25, 2015 @ 7:43 pm

    • Montana’s back country is indeed amazing and fun! We are also blessed with pretty good maps of the forests courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service as well as the U.S. Geological Survey topographical maps. I study both before a hike and carry the appropriate maps always along with a good compass (and a back-up one as well). Navigation is part of the fun of back country hiking.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — October 25, 2015 @ 8:00 pm

  10. Real wilderness. Beautiful photos with autumnal colors.

    Like

    Comment by Sartenada — October 26, 2015 @ 1:24 am

    • Once you step off that road you enter a vast wilderness which is always a wonderful experience.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — October 26, 2015 @ 7:22 am

  11. Beautiful, Terry….reminds me of “home.”

    Like

    Comment by seekraz — October 26, 2015 @ 7:47 am

    • I bet it does! I plan to make the Great burn a “home” for me for part of next summer!

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — October 26, 2015 @ 7:49 am

  12. That is one inviting road … and with good reason. wow.

    Like

    Comment by Teresa Evangeline — October 26, 2015 @ 7:55 am

    • That road on the edge of wilderness provides access to some very beautiful country and some wonderful scenery can be seen from the road itself.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — October 26, 2015 @ 8:08 am

  13. I love that wooden path through the forest in #5 and #6.

    Like

    Comment by Candace — October 27, 2015 @ 10:11 am

    • There were three places where the wood walks were installed. That is about the only way the marshy areas could be protected. The wood was 4 X 6 and was supported on something that I couldn’t see. They made it substantial enough to easily support horses.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — October 27, 2015 @ 3:22 pm


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