• A woman rests on rock over looking Missouri River Breaks south of Malta. Photo by Tony Bynum/tonybynum.com

Flathead-Kootenai Chapter Walks

Photo by Tony Bynum

  

4

Saturday, May 7

Pleasant Valley Birding

Location: Kila
Public Land Management: Flathead National Forest
Kootenai National Forest
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services
Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 3 miles, >600 Ft
Difficulty: Easy
Leaders: Brian Baxter and Greta Sauer

Join us for a day of birding as we focus on winged predators that patrol some of the best habitat in northwestern Montana!  We will visit at least two field sites of different optimal habitats and connectivity that both support a wide diversity of winged wildlife and other creatures.  Binoculars, spotting scopes, and bird books will come in handy as we study lakeshores, wetlands, rocky outcrops, timbered edge effects, grassy hills, and the skies for birds of prey, waterfowl, marsh birds, songbirds, nests, and other wildlife.

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5

Saturday, May 14

Flagstaff Flora

Location: Libby
Public Land Management: Kootenai National Forest
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 4.4 miles, 1,425 ft
Difficulty: Moderate
Leaders: Brian Baxter and Jon Reny

Historic Flagstaff Mountain, named for the flag that flew from the rocky summit during World War I, is situated at 6,075 feet and provides magnificent vistas of the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness and the Kootenai River Canyon.  Enjoy this spring wildflower walk with field botanist Jon Reny as we study the flora that can be found in open grassy parks along the route.  There is potential to view bighorn sheep, bear, deer, and songbirds.

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10

Saturday, May 21

Kootenai County Birding

Location: Libby
Public Land Management: Kootenai National Forest
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 3 miles, 500 ft
Difficulty: Easy
Leaders: Brian Baxter and Amy Robinson

Spring birding in Kootenai country can be an amazing experience during the migration season!  Share a day with fellow birdwatchers, outdoor enthusiasts, and field ornithologist Brian Baxter as we explore some of the best birding spots in northwest Montana.  With over 200 species present in the area, we will have a good chance to spot birds of prey, woodpeckers, songbirds, waterfowl, and nesting sites on this tour.  Please bring binoculars, a bird book, spotting scopes, and lunch.

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Tuesday, May 31

Columbia Mountain Evening Wildflower Walk

Location: Columbia Falls
Public Land Management: Flathead National Forest
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 3 miles, 900 ft
Difficulty: Moderate
Leaders: Ellen Horowitz and Grete Gansauer

Join us for an evening full of wildflowers! From showy larkspurs to diminutive miterworts, the Columbia Mountain Trail is a flower-lover's paradise. We will walk at an easy pace and make lots of stops to view flowers growing in shady, sunny, and wet habitats.

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Saturday, June 4

Fungi and Forest Health

Location: Little Joe
Public Land Management: Kootenai National Forest
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 3 miles, 300 ft
Difficulty: Moderate
Leaders: Brian Baxter and Amy Robinson

Join us for a day of mushroom identification and field study of forest fungi, diseases, and insect pests.  We will visit several field sites to observe and identify some of the more commonly occurring pathogens that attack our local coniferous and deciduous tree species.  We will be identifying some edible mushroom species, but emphasize that the ingestion of edible mushrooms is an individual's choice and ultimate identification is their responsibility.  Bring lunch, water, and good hiking boots.

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18

Saturday, June 4

Leigh Lake Yoga Hike

Location: Libby
Public Land Management: Kootenai National Forest
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 3 miles, 1,050 ft
Difficulty: Moderate
Leaders: Danielle Spillman and Ashley South

Join us for a beautiful hike to Leigh Lake where we'll do yoga, breathe in nature, and fully experience the wildness of the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness. The hike to Leigh Lake is short and very rewarding but quite steep. We will start the morning with a steady climb through forests and before long we will break into rocky terrain with fairly open hillsides. If we are lucky we will spot some mountain goats along the trail. Our yoga practice will be at the shores of the second largest lake in the Cabinets and below Snowshoe Peak, the largest peak in the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness. Please bring yoga and hiking gear as well as a lunch and plenty of water.

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25

Monday, June 6

Blacktail Trail # 997

Location: Noxon
Public Land Management: Kootenai National Forest
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 11 miles, 4,000 ft
Difficulty: Strenuous
Leaders: Sandy Compton and Golden Caninee

Explore Blacktail Creek and environs in the Scotchman Peaks Proposed Wilderness from Trail #997. This is most likely an out-and-back, but could turn into an open loop with a return via Star Peak and Trail #999.

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29

Saturday, June 11

Granite Lake Ladies Hike

Location: Libby
Public Land Management: Kootenai National Forest
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 12 miles, 1,400 ft
Difficulty: Strenuous
Leaders: Ashley South and Grete Gansauer

Granite Creek is a steep-walled, narrow valley with a classic, glacial u-shape. Along the hike we will get a glimpse at the only remaining alpine glacier in the Cabinets, Blackwell Glacier, that clings to Snowshoe Peak the highest peak in the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness. Not far inside the wilderness boundary is a 10-foot high waterfall with a deep, emerald-blue pool below. When we get to Granite Lake, we can spot one of the largest cascading waterfalls in the Rockies, flowing directly from Blackwell Glacier. Along the trail we will also see two of the largest Douglas firs in Montana. The summit of Snowshoe Peak is visible from the north end of the lake, but the buttress of A Peak is the grandest spectacle of all.

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31

Saturday, June 11

Bull River Fires

Location: Troy
Public Land Management: Kootenai National Forest
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 3 miles, 300 ft
Difficulty: Easy
Leaders: Brian Baxter and Amy Robinson

Discover the intense power of forest fires as we explore and study some of the fire locations of 2015! We will visit a few different places and discuss the weather and forest fuel loads that contributed to ignitions. Experienced fire specialists will hike with us and examine the hot and 'dirty' burns, fire-fighting strategy, results of tactics, post-fire treatment plans, reforestation plans, and effects on wildlife populations. Bring water, lunch, and hiking boots.

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41

Saturday, June 18

Lincoln County Archaeological Tour

Location: Libby
Public Land Management: Kootenai National Forest
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 1 mile, > 200 ft
Difficulty: Easy
Leaders: Brian Baxter and Amy Robinson

Come along to peek into a time capsule of Lincoln County History with local archaeologists!  We will take a road tour and several short hikes into colorful slices of the past, including Native American 'Indian trees' and the site of an early trading post established by fur trader and explorer David Thompson.  Additional sites may include historical logging camps, rock ovens, and Native American vision quest sites.  Please arrive with lunch, water, proper footwear, and full gas tanks.

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53

Saturday, June 25

Plein Air Art Day

Location: Libby
Public Land Management: Kootenai National Forest
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 1 mile, > 200 ft
Difficulty: Easy
Leaders: Brian Baxter and Ashley South

Merge your artistic passion with nature!  Come together with plein air artists into wild and scenic settings and lay the groundwork for your next plein air piece.  We will have local experienced artists available to help coach you in a variety of mediums, including pen and ink, charcoals, and watercolors.  Participants should come prepared to pack their own art supplies and easels a several hundred feet into field sites.  Bring water, lunch, and good footwear.

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55

Sunday, June 26

Mount Henry

Location: Yaak
Public Land Management: Kootenai National Forest
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 4.5 miles, 2,000 ft
Difficulty: Moderately - Strenuous
Leaders: Jessie Grossman and Ashley South

Hike to a historic lookout tower in the heart of the Yaak Valley and be treated to views of the biologically diverse, rolling, roadless terrain that's home to grizzlies, lynx, wolverine, elk, moose, fisher, as well as countless other plants and animals.

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58

Saturday, July 2

Klatawa Fire

Location: Libby
Public Land Management: Kootenai National Forest
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 5 miles, 2,300 ft
Difficulty: Strenuous
Leaders: Jon Jeresek and Paul Leimbach

We will explore the Klatawa Fire that covered approximately 5,000 acres in northwest Montana in 2015.  The fire was allowed to play its natural ecological role with no direct suppression from start (August 14) to end (October 20th.)  The fire burned under a myriad of conditions and fire intensities.  A fire ecologist will explain the effects of the fire one year later.  Stunning views of the surrounding landscapes can be viewed from this ridgetop hike.

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60

Thursday, July 7

Three Lakes Peak

Location: Ravalli
Public Land Management: Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 3 miles, 1,500 ft
Difficulty: Moderate
Leaders: Bert Lindler and Steve Seninger

Join Germaine White and Pablo Espinoza from the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead for an enjoyable hike into tribal wildlands. This short hike leads into a roadless area along the Reservation Divide, where views from the summit include the Cabinet Mountains, Mission Mountains, Bitterroot Mountains, and Flathead Lake.

A tribal recreation permit must be purchased before the hike and is available in Missoula at Bob Wards, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Regional Office, and Sportsman's Warehouse. Permits are also available in St. Ignatius at Cenex.

This hike is in honor of Bob Hopkins (1949-2016), a dedicated MWA volunteer and wilderness advocate.

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63

Saturday, July 9

Geiger Lakes Excursion

Location: Libby
Public Land Management: Kootenai National Forest
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 8 miles, 2,200 ft
Difficulty: Moderately - Strenuous
Leaders: Brian Baxter and Amy Robinson

Experience the relative solitude of the Southern Cabinet Mountain Wilderness as we lunch and fish in turquoise alpine lakes.  This hike leaves options open for our small group such as lower lake fishing for rainbow and westslope cutthroat trout, upper lake scenic views, and a push up to Lost Buck Pass with stunning views towards both the east and west Cabinets.  Good potential for viewing mountain goats, bears, bighorn sheep, and birds of prey.  Come prepared for a full day hike with plenty of water, fishing gear, and lunch.

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64

Saturday, July 9

Fire Ecology Field Trip

Location: Noxon
Public Land Management: Kootenai National Forest
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 6 miles, > 200 ft
Difficulty: Moderate
Leaders: Philip Hough and Art Zack

Art Zack, retired Forest Service Fire Ecologist, will lead us on a field trip to look at areas in the Scotchman Peaks that burned in 2015. We will look at the patterns of fire as it burned across the landscape, what it left behind, how it impacted the landscape and habitats, and how they responded. Exact locations will depend on spring assessments. This walk will emphasize education rather than exercise, with some walking but lots of stops to look at and talk about fire, its behavior, and impacts.

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68

Saturday, July 16

Coal Ridge Lookout

Location: Polebridge
Public Land Management: Flathead National Forest
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 6.8 miles, 1,800 ft
Difficulty: Strenuous
Leaders: Bill Walker and Randy Kenyon

We will start the hike on Moran Creek Trail #2 and climb steadily through a region of undisturbed forest and the occasional open meadow until we reach the site of an old fire lookout on the crest of Coal Ridge. The ridgetop is above the tree line, offering broad views of Flathead National Forest and Glacier National Park. If there is enough interest, we will offer an optional diversion to the site of an even older lookout. 

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71

Saturday, July 16

Old Growth Ecology

Location: Little Joe
Public Land Management: Kootenai National Forest
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 2.5 miles, >300 ft
Difficulty: Easy
Leaders: Brian Baxter and Ashley South

Study ancient cedars with forester and wildlife biologist Brian Baxter as we examine old growth ecology.  We will observe and discuss silviculture and wildlife presence in the cedars, as well as learn how native people and early explorers used this unique ecosystem.  We will be on the lookout for fungi, insects, birds, fish, mammals, vegetation, reptiles, and amphibians.  There will also be the opportunity to take short, off-trail walks to view wildlife signs.  Enjoy the cool shade of the cedars and bring a camera, lunch, and water.  Children over ten years of age welcome with an adult.

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74

Friday, July 22

Picnic Lake

Location: Kalispell
Public Land Management: Flathead National Forest
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 6 miles, 1,300 ft
Difficulty: Moderately - Strenuous
Leaders: Ellen Horowitz and Grete Gansauer

Join us for a hike in Jewel Basin and learn about its fabled preservation history. Along the way we will stop to identify wildflowers and look for wildlife. In the most recent forest management plan the Flathead National Forest recommended the Jewel Basin area as designated Wilderness!  Bring water, snacks, and lunch.

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78

Saturday, July 23

Rockin' Geology Day

Location: Libby
Public Land Management: Kootenai National Forest
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 5 miles, 1,900 ft
Difficulty: Moderately - Strenuous
Leaders: Brian Baxter and Ashley South

The French explorers and fur traders named the Cabinet Mountains for their shelf-like rock faces.  Join Kootenai Forest Geologist Lynn Hagarty and others for a trip into our beloved Cabinet Mountain Wilderness!  We will head up the Leigh/Snowshoe Creek drainages to observe and study East Cabinet geology, including faults consisting of argillite and quartzite of the Precambrian Ravalli group.  Additionally, we will check out limestone formations of the Wallace Formation.  Historically, these geological formations yielded gold, silver, and lead.  Please come prepared with good hiking boots, lunch, water, and sunscreen.

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83

Saturday, July 30

Bridge of Wilderness

Location: Little Joe
Public Land Management: Kootenai National Forest
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 4 miles, 500 ft
Difficulty: Moderate
Leaders: Brian Baxter and Ashley South

Walk with us across a bridge spanning the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness and the proposed Scotchman Peaks Wilderness!  The pristine Bull River Valley is one of the most scenic areas in Northwest Montana.  This connective corridor has an amazing series of habitat components that enable wildlife to exist and migrate between rugged wildernesses.  We will visit several field sites to study vegetation, habitat types, predator-prey relationships, wildlife biology, history, and fire ecology.  Our focus will be on bighorn sheep, bears, elk, wolverine, fisher, Canadian lynx, waterfowl, and birds of prey.  Be sure to bring binoculars.

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88

Thursday, August 11

Chapaaqn

Location: Arlee
Public Land Management: Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 5 miles, 2,000 ft
Difficulty: Moderate
Meeting Time/Place: 9:00 a.m.  at the Arlee Community Center (34086 Powwow Road) in Arlee
Leaders: Julie Ellison and Allison Linville

Join Germaine White and Pablo Espinoza from the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead on a hike to Chapaaqn Peak. The trail is a gentle rise in elevation for much of the hike. The last part, however, is a scramble up a talus slope. The reward is incredible vistas of the Cabinet Mountains, Mission Mountains, Bitterroot Mountains, a lovely tarn on the north side of Chapaaqn, and Flathead Lake.

A tribal recreation permit must be purchased before the hike and is available in Missoula at Bob Wards, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Regional Office, and Sportsman's Warehouse. Permits are also available in St. Ignatius at Cenex.

This hike is in honor of Bob Hopkins (1949-2016), a dedicated MWA volunteer and wilderness advocate.

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90

Saturday, August 13

Moose Peak

Location: Polebridge
Public Land Management: Flathead National Forest
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 6 miles, 1,900 ft
Difficulty: Strenuous
Leaders: Grete Gansauer and Lisa Flowers

Deep in the Whitefish Range, Moose Peak offers spectacular views into the heart of some of northwest Montana's wildest country. On our adventure we will be climbing into alpine areas, relishing the expansive vistas and exploring the delicate intricacies of alpine flora and ecology. As we listen for the chirp of pikas and savor handfuls of huckleberries, this hike will be a reminder that even the most physically challenging days can be relaxing for the soul!

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97

Sunday, August 21

Red Top Mountain

Location: Yaak
Public Land Management: Kootenai National Forest
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 7 miles, 3,000 ft
Difficulty: Extremely Strenuous
Leaders: Jessie Grossman and Sue Janssen

A challenging climb will take hikers to the top of Red Top Mountain in the Yaak Valley, where we will look out into the Yaak's wildest and most diverse roadless country.

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100

Saturday, August 27

Wetland Wanderings

Location: Kila
Public Land Management: Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 3 miles, >500 ft
Difficulty: Easy
Leaders: Brian Baxter and Amy Robinson

Enjoy the magic and wonders of wetland habitats!  Share a day discovering the amazing diversity of wetlands, lake habitats, and forest edge effects.  We will visit two types of wetland areas where we will investigate and study vegetation, terrestrial mammals, aquatic weasels, tracks, sign, and scat.  Bring along your binoculars and spotting scopes, as we will scout and scope for birds of prey, passerines, and waterfowl.  Also, bring a camera, as these often overlooked and important connective habitats offer possibilities of photographing close to 200 bird species, and a myriad of wildlife.

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105

Sunday, September 18

Tuchuck Mountain

Location: Polebridge
Public Land Management: Flathead National Forest
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 13.6 miles, 3,857 ft
Difficulty: Extremely Strenuous
Leaders: Debo Powers and Amy Robinson

Hiking to Tuchuck is the most strenuous day-hike in the Whitefish Range.  There are spectacular views of the Whitefish Range and Glacier and Waterton National Parks along the entire trail.  The alpine larch will have turned a brilliant orange and the huckleberry bushes will be red. Tuchuck lies in the heart of 80,000 acres of roadless land that the Whitefish Range Partnership proposed for wilderness designation in a recommendation to the Flathead Forest Service in October 2013.

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108

Saturday, September 24

Wetland Wonders and Wildlife

Location: Libby
Public Land Management: Kootenai National Forest
Trail Miles, Elevation Gain: 4 miles, 500 ft
Difficulty: Moderate
Leaders: Brian Baxter and Ashley South

Join us for a look into the wonders of wetlands and the wildlife that thrive in these specialized ecosystems!  We will study habitat components, including vegetation of bogs and fens, as well as the birds that reside and migrate through these important marshy link corridors.  Focusing on the predator-prey relationship, we will study other wildlife that depend on these areas, including deer, elk, moose, bear, weasels, muskrat, and beaver.  Come prepared for a full day outing and bring lunch, water, and binoculars.  Four-wheel drive vehicles recommended.

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