Montana Outdoors

April 10, 2009

Annual Burgess Lake visit

Filed under: Montana, Nature, Outdoors, Photography, Photos, Pictures — Tags: — montucky @ 9:54 pm

At least once a year I try to remember to visit Burgess Lake, a small lake on the southwest end of the Flathead Reservation. It is accessed by a half mile long trail that climbs about four hundred feet up from Montana Highway 200. It’s a steep, rocky and rough little trail which might explain why the lake gets few human visitors.

Burgess Lake trail

About half way up the trail there is this rather nice bed of moss which seems to do quite nicely in an otherwise completely rocky draw.

Along the Burgess Lake trail

The lake of about four acres in size sits on a little shelf on the north slope of the Coeur d’Alene Mountains above the Flathead river and rumor has it that it contains some sizable Cutthroat Trout. The same rumor says that this is the rattlesnake capitol of western Montana. I can’t vouch for the truth of either rumor.

Burgess Lake

It’s a rather private, pretty place where one can relax on a spring day and enjoy observing the daily routines of several dozen pairs of ducks who believe they own the lake and very loudly argue their case.

April 30, 2008

Burgess Lake, an April visit

Filed under: Montana, Nature, Outdoors, Photography, Photos, Pictures, Wildflowers — Tags: — montucky @ 10:08 pm

Early in May I first visited Burgess Lake and it seemed like a good place to visit again today to perhaps see what spring was doing up there.

For some reason I had forgotten just how steep the little trail was and felt pretty happy that it was short. It’s not a great hike for those who have an aversion to “up”. It occurred to me that if you were to go into the main floor of a 40 story building, find the stairs and then climb them to the top you would find the exertion similar, although you’d need some very loose rock on the stairs and a few downed trees strewn across them to create a more accurate effect.

Today the ice that completely covered the lake in March was gone and the signs of spring were everywhere. This first view at the top of the trail

Burgess Lake

seemed like an invitation to visit the opposite end, which turned out to be serendipitous because on the way I encountered a Serviceberry which had just begun to show its first blossoms of the new spring.

Serviceberry blossom

Once at the other end, the view of the lake from there was also quite pleasant

Burgess Lake

and the high country above the lake still has not forgotten what winter is all about.

Above Burgess Lake

In my visit in March I discovered the first buttercups of this spring, and it seemed to fit that on today’s trip I would discover the first Shooting Stars of this year there too

Shooting Star

including this unusual five-headed one.

Shooting Star

I have to admit that I had another reason to visit the lake today and that was to find a Diamondback or two, but seeing the new flowers in bloom made up for the disappointment of finding out that the rattlers have not come out of their winter dens yet.

(Burgess Lake is located just above the lower Flathead River in western Montana about a hundred miles south of Glacier Park and is on the Flathead Indian Reservation.)

March 9, 2008

The lichens at Burgess Lake

Filed under: Environment, Lichens, Montana, Nature, Outdoors, Photography, Photos, Pictures — Tags: , , — montucky @ 10:37 am

The trail up to and the terrain immediately surrounding Burgess Lake is composed almost completely of rocks, and I was very much struck by the variety and beautiful colors of the lichens that cover literally all of them. My knowledge of lichens is sadly deficient, but I know that there are folks like my friend Beyenburgerin who are quite interested in them and much more knowledgeable than I, and since she reminded me of the beauty that many of them possess, I will post some of the photos that I brought back from my recent visit to the lake.

There are also some gorgeous areas of moss along the trail as it ascends through its small ravine, and this is how one section of it appears:

Burgess Lake moss

Now, the lichen art gallery:



Lichens and moss





Something to remember:

Lichens growing on rocks take many years, even hundreds of years, to establish their homes and when a careless placement of your hiking boot dislodges a patch of lichen from a rock, you may be undoing the patient work of centuries.

( In order to make the uploading process quicker, with the exception of the first and fifth photo, I uploaded to flickr only a small version of the photos. If anyone is interested in the full size version, I will be happy to provide it on request.)

March 8, 2008

Burgess Lake

Several hundred times I have driven past the small trail that leads from the side of Montana Highway 200 up to Burgess Lake, and on almost every one of those times I told myself that I should take a little time and make the short hike up to it. Well, Thursday I finally got around to doing just that.

There’s even a fairly convenient place to park along the highway about six miles from the mouth of the Flathead River and two miles inside the western boundary of the Flathead Indian Reservation, and although there is no sign there to mark it and the trail itself is very small and unmarked, it isn’t really all that difficult to locate after looking at a map.

Flathead River

I’ve been told that the lake is only a quarter of a mile from the highway, and maybe that’s true, but the steep little trail is about twice that long, winding nearly a half mile up through a rocky ravine to reach the lake, about four hundred feet above the river at an altitude of about 2,900 feet, laying in a sort of a shelf on the mountainside with the Flathead river valley below and the high country of the Reservation Divide roadless area four miles and four thousand feet above. Winter is not the best time to negotiate that trail on the snow and ice covered rocks, but I made it with a little care, a great pair of hiking boots and a hiking staff I made last summer from a sturdy shaft from a hawthorn tree.

This photo was taken from about half way up the trail, facing toward the east.

East along the lower Flathead

The next three photos show about all there is to see of the little lake itself. It is around a quarter of a mile long and a hundred yards wide at its widest point, but is reputedly loaded with west slope cutthroat trout after Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks in a joint effort with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe stocked it with 2,600 4″ fingerlings in 2002. It also has the reputation of being the rattlesnake capitol of western Montana, and after getting a really close look at the rocky terrain surrounding the lake, I think that could well be true. I plan to find out once the ice that now covers the lake melts.

Burgess Lake

Burgess Lake

Burgess Lake

Directly to the west about fifteen miles, across the North Siegel roadless area, and across the north end of the Patrick’s Knob roadless area is the peak of Patrick’s Knob itself, heavily snow covered this time of year. This entire area contains an abundance of elk, black bear and mountain lion.

Burgess Lake

Cutthroats or no cutthroats, snakes or no snakes, there are some beautiful views to be seen here for a fairly modest effort. These last two photos were taken from a little ridge above the lake. The first is looking due east, and the second, due west. They were taken one minute apart. There are few places that I know of that have that kind of diversity of landscape. Not a bad place to sit for a spell and enjoy a leisurely lunch!

Flathead River

Patrick's Knob

March 6, 2008

First blooms of spring

Filed under: Montana, Nature, Outdoors, Photography, Photos, Pictures, Wildflowers — Tags: , — montucky @ 5:57 pm

As a complete surprise at the destination of a hike today, on a lonely hillside just above a seldom-visited little lake that is still frozen completely across were these first blossoms of our new spring. A most unlikely place for buttercups!



(Photographed March 6, 2008 along Burgess Lake in western Montana.)

Create a free website or blog at