Where can I go hiking in the Bitterroot Valley?
Enjoy spectacular views of the cliff walls and unique spires of Blodgett Canyon with a stroll along Blodgett Creek.
- Trailhead: Just north of Hamilton head west on Canyon Creek Road and follow to Blodgett Creek Trailhead.
Palisade Mountain Trail
Directions: The well maintained trails 44, 86, and 300 are in the Stony Mountain Roadless Area of the Sapphire Mountains. Trails 44 and 86 are ridgetop trails with outstanding views of the surrounding country. Trail 86 cuts through the northern part of the Skalkaho Game Preserve and joins with trail 313, the Easthouse National Recreation Trail after a 6 mile hike. Trail 44 branches off of trail 86 and offers access to Palisade Mountain. A short side hike drops you down to Fool Hen Lake and some outstanding alpine fishing. Trail 300 skirts the northern boundary of the Skalkaho Game Preserve. A short side hike north on a maintained trail takes you to Gleason Lake which at times can produce some outstanding cutthroat trout. At about 5 miles, trail 300 intersects trail 44 and then continues on another mile to Burnt Fork Lake, which is also an outstanding fishery.
- Trailhead for Trails 44 and 86: Turn east off of Highway 93 three miles south of Hamilton onto Montana Highway 38. Continue on 38 for about 9 miles until you enter the Bitterroot National Forest and turn left on Forest Service route 714. Continue on 714 for approximately 20 miles to the Trailhead.
- Trailhead for Trail 300: Turn east off Highway 93 at Woodside, 6 miles north of Hamilton, and follow road east for approximately 24 miles to FS 1348 and follow 1348 a short way to Trailhead.
Baker Lake Trail
The Baker Lake trail is rough and climbs steeply in many areas, although it's well defined and easy to follow. A little over a mile from the trailhead, you'll reach the small Baker Lake. Continue on to Middle (.5 miles further) and Gem Lakes (.75 miles further) by following the Baker Lake inlet stream. The trail is not as well defined past Baker Lake but just stay on the right side of the creek. Baker Lake offers fine fishing for cutthroat trout. Keep in mind that ice out doesn’t usually occur until the end of June of beginning of July.
- Trailhead: Baker Lake Trailhead is located in the West Fork Ranger District. Drive south from Darby, Montana on U.S. Highway 93 for 4 miles to the West Fork Road. Turn right and drive 7 miles to Baker Lake Road, which is well marked with a Forest Service sign. Turn right on Baker Lake Road and take the right forks at two junctions. The trailhead is about 9.5 miles from the West Fork Road. There is limited parking at the trailhead.
Camas Lakes Trail
Adventure seeking hikers may want to scramble up the rock ledges west of the upper Camas Lake. This is true alpine country in all its splendor. There are several creek crossings along this trail. The junction to Kidney Lake is not well marked, there is a cairn and blaze on a tree making the location. Lower Camas Lake is a short way up the trail from the junction. The trails to the upper lakes can be hard to follow but if you stay close to the feeder creeks you will find the upper lakes. Fishing is good in all the lakes.
- Trailhead: Drive south from Hamilton on US Hwy 93 for 9 miles to Lost Horse Road. Drive 2 miles to Forest Service sign for Camas Creek, turn right and follow for 6 miles to the trailhead. There is ample parking and area to turn around.
Bear Creek Trail
Bear Creek trail is well defined and offers good access to the creek. There are numerous pools that hold native cutthroat trout. The grade is minimal for the first few miles. Use is heavy to the falls which are about 1.5 miles from the trailhead. Most hikers and fishermen do not continue far beyond the falls. The trail becomes more difficult and hard to follow. Dedicated hikers can take side hikes to some alpine lakes. The South Fork leads toward Two Lakes. The trail cuts off to the south about 3.5 miles from the trailhead. The trail ends prior to reaching the lake but you can bushwhack up to the lake by following the creek to the right. The Middle Fork leads to Bryan Lake and Bear Creek Pass. The trail cuts off to the left about 6 miles from the trailhead. Byran Lake is another 2 miles along a steep, rough trail. Staying on the trail to the right takes you up the North Fork to Bear Lake. This trail is poorly defined and hard to follow at times.
- Trailhead: Drive south from Victor for 3 miles to Bear Creek Road. Turn right and go 2 miles to Red Crow Road and turn right. Continue for a half mile to road junction, turn left and go 3 miles to Bear Creek trailhead.
Mill Creek Trail
Mill Creek trail is an excellent trail. A log bridge crosses the creek at a mile and a half. Three miles into the trail you come to a waterfall with a deep pool. Another deep pool is one half mile further. Fishing for small cutthroat is good in Mill Creek.
- Trailhead: Follow Dutch Hill Road at Woodside, 2 miles north of Hamilton, west to junction at Bowman Road. Turn left for less than a quarter mile then turn right at Mill Creek. Travel about a mile to trailhead. The trailhead has ample parking and was refurbished in 2010.
Sawtooth Creek Trail
The trail starts out north and enters private property while skirting around Goat Mountain to enter the Sawtooth Creek drainage. Once the trail starts up the Sawtooth Creek drainage it becomes rough and somewhat hard to follow in places. The trail follows Sawtooth Creek closely. Sawtooth Creek is a lovely mountain stream. Fishing is quite good for native westslope cutthroat trout. The trail extends for about 12 miles to the head of the drainage. Approximately 9 miles into the trail the adventurous hiker can turn due south to Ingomar Lake, a fabled fishing lake. There is no trail to Ingomar Lake. The hike is a mile and a half of bushwhacking up a steep slope. Ingomar Lake has taken on legendary status as a fishery. Anyone attempting to reach Ingomar Lake should have maps, compass and GPS and know how to use them. The reward for the effort is reaching a mythical location that few have seen or fished.
- Trailhead: Drive 4 miles south of Hamilton on U.S. Highway 93 to Roaring Lion Road. Turn west for 2.5 miles to the trailhead. This trailhead serves Ward Mountain Trail, Roaring Lion Creek Trail as well as Sawtooth Creek Trail.