Montana Outdoors

June 2, 2017

East of Big Hole

Today a friend and I hiked several miles on an old road on the east slope of Big Hole looking for a trail that has been decommissioned by the Forest Service and abandoned for many years. We found it in pretty bad shape with a large number of trees down over it. It would be nice if we could convince the Forest Service to revive it because it would complete a nice loop that would be good for horse people as well as an occasional hiker.

I’ve included a few photos showing what the old road looks like, followed by some of the things that are in bloom at 5.600 feet. The road was cleaned up last year to allow some heavy equipment to get up to work on the Copper King fire so it will be in good shape for a few years before the Alders again close in over it.

Road 7578

SE slope Big Hole

Road 7578

These tiny flowers (about 1/8 inch across) caught my eye but I can’t positively identify them. I think they may be Western Wood Anemones (Anemone oregana) but I’m not positive.

Western Wood Anemone

Western Wood Anemone

Sitka Alder

Sitka Alder ~ Alnus viridis

Utah honeysuckle

Utah Honeysuckle ~ Lonicera utahensis


Huckleberry ~ Vaccinium membranaceum

Northern Black Currant

Northern Black Currant ~ Ribes hudsonianum


  1. Great pictures! i hope they will open up that road for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by wordsfromanneli — June 2, 2017 @ 11:11 pm

    • Sadly, there is probably very little chance.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — June 3, 2017 @ 3:30 pm

      • I suppose you could drive as far as you can and then walk … but you’d be limited in how far you can get.


        Comment by wordsfromanneli — June 3, 2017 @ 4:08 pm

      • I was going to add that it’s happening here too. Our back roads are being deactivated, probably due to vandalism of the forestry equipment, so I can’t blame them, but it means I can’t go mushroom picking in those areas anymore.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by wordsfromanneli — June 3, 2017 @ 4:10 pm

        • Nearly all of the roads that have been deactivated in the National Forests here are gated off from motor traffic, but open to hiking and mountain bikes. The Forest Service can use them for emergency access, although usually they have to saw them out for that. I use them a lot.

          Liked by 1 person

          Comment by montucky — June 3, 2017 @ 7:40 pm

  2. That would be ideal and I can see where trail riders with horses would really like it too.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Mama's Empty Nest — June 3, 2017 @ 7:17 am

    • The trail to the lookout would be part of the loop and it is one of the best horse trails around.


      Comment by montucky — June 3, 2017 @ 3:31 pm

  3. It would be a shame to let that trail go after all the work it must have taken to build it in the first place. It’s too bad a snowmobile club couldn’t adopt it. If it wasn’t for them many of our trails would be grown over.
    Interesting that the alders are just starting to flower up there. Ours flowered over a month ago!
    I don’t recognize that little mystery flower at all. It’s got the right number of petals for an anemone.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by New Hampshire Garden Solutions — June 3, 2017 @ 2:38 pm

    • The snowmobilers here don’t do anything like that. They tend to ride the old roads and places where they are not supposed to go.
      It seems like the blooming sequences here are all mixed up this year. Of course though, these Alders are at a higher altitude where things don’t get started very early.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — June 3, 2017 @ 3:36 pm

  4. Is this in the Cabinet Ranger District? If so, please get me the trail # (or a map of it). I’ll be doing some trail work / recon for them this summer. Maybe I can help make this happen. Really appreciate your blog. It cheers me up (I haven’t been able to get up there for the last two years) … Bill Arnold /

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Bill Arnold — June 3, 2017 @ 3:57 pm

    • This is in the Plains/Thompson Falls Ranger District, Lolo Forest. You should enjoy the Cabinet District. There’s a lot of beautiful country there and I’ve always gotten good info from them on the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness.

      Glad that you have enjoyed the blog!


      Comment by montucky — June 3, 2017 @ 7:37 pm

  5. In the photo of the Sitka alder, are those cones from last year in the bottom left? I know about Sitka spruce (boat masts!) but it never occurred to me that there could be other species with “Sitka” in the name. Silly me! The Utah honeysuckle’s a new one for me, too — so much nicer than the Japanese honeysuckle that’s invaded down here. Does the Utah species have that wonderful honeysuckle fragrance?

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by shoreacres — June 3, 2017 @ 5:17 pm

    • Yes, those are last year’s cones. There are a lot of plant names associated with “Sitka” but I have never figured out exactly what the name conveys.
      Alders are far from my favorite plant because they literally cover some of the old roads and trails with very dense growth and provide a very poor place to meet with a bear as you fight your way through. I always go through the very thick places with my pistol in my hand.
      THe Utah Honeysuckle doesn’t have much smell to it, but there is an orange honeysuckle that does.


      Comment by montucky — June 3, 2017 @ 7:51 pm

      • I went snooping around, and made a nice discovery. After 1867, the Alaska settlement that turned into a town was known as Sitka. The word comes from a Tlingit phrase that means on the outside, or seaward side of Shee [Baranof Island]”). So, it may be that all these Sitka trees and plants were first found there and took the name. I can’t swear to that, but it makes sense.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by shoreacres — June 3, 2017 @ 8:19 pm

        • I’ve read that too and it does make sense. I use the Burke Museum website at the U of Washington as an aid to species identification and it’s there that I see many different species that have that name.

          Liked by 1 person

          Comment by montucky — June 3, 2017 @ 8:42 pm

  6. What a beautiful place to hike! And a beautiful place for photography!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Reed Andariese — June 3, 2017 @ 5:22 pm

    • Yes, these old roads and trails are treasures if you like to hike. Hunters use them a lot as well.


      Comment by montucky — June 3, 2017 @ 7:41 pm

  7. Beauty on a large and small scale!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by de Wets Wild — June 3, 2017 @ 8:18 pm

  8. I could walk on those old roads forever….wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by seekraz — June 4, 2017 @ 12:59 pm

  9. That’s a beautiful road. Your greens are such a different shade than our greens.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Candace — June 6, 2017 @ 6:46 pm

    • Those bright lighter green trees are Larch and they are deciduous conifers, and therefore grow new needles every year. They start out in the Spring as a lemon-green and gradually darken as they grow and mature, then turn yellow and orange in Fall.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — June 6, 2017 @ 7:21 pm

  10. Sceneries captudered my eyes and beautiful flowers. Your country is fantastic beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Sartenada — June 7, 2017 @ 2:12 am

    • Most of what I photograph is in wild, natural country, and Mother Nature, not altered by “civilization”, is very beautiful.


      Comment by montucky — June 7, 2017 @ 7:25 am

  11. Lovely images .. looks like a super place to go for a walk 😃

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Julie@frogpondfarm — June 9, 2017 @ 9:53 pm

    • Thank you! Yes, it is. There are many places like that here and no crowds or confusion, just the quiet of the forest.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — June 9, 2017 @ 10:24 pm

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