view from doris mountain

Hike to Doris Mountain

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The hike to Doris Mountain in Flathead National Forest near Hungry Horse Reservoir was the busiest hike I have taken in the last month.  That said, I only ran into about five groups of people, and I had the top of the mountain to myself for the entire time I spent up there.

Getting to Doris Mountain

Still, for a Tuesday, it was a little more crowded than expected, especially given the drive to the trailhead.  Much of the drive is on a long, narrow dirt road that switches back and forth up the mountain. 

It isn’t too rocky, and it is graded well enough that a low-clearance car with a good driver could make it up.  The issue was the narrow blind turns, limited turnouts, and sheer drop offs.  I felt lucky to be driving up through the low hanging clouds so I couldn’t see how far I might fall if VANgo tipped over!

I suppose I have been watching too many short videos on IG of trucks falling of cliffs that disintegrate into raging rivers in China! I did not want to have to pull to the edge to share the road with anyone. Since I generally hike early, I wasn’t too concerned on the way up, but I dreaded the ride down in VANgo. 

I hoped anyone I ran into drove responsibly.  All too often I run into people that don’t know the right of way or drive too fast on dirt roads with high clearance vehicles.

Upon reaching the parking area, mosquitoes immediately attacked the van windows.  So much so, I briefly thought they were inside, as I have a bit of a bug graveyard going in VANgo despite bug screens. 

The Hike to Doris Mountain – 6.2 Miles, Moderate

I couldn’t get the bug spray on fast enough before walking up the road a little further to the trailhead.  High clearance vehicles can make it all the way to the trailhead, though parking is limited. I stopped because I wasn’t exactly sure where to find the trailhead.

The trail descends through the lush forest first.  A big storm blew in the previous night, so the wet bushes drooped over the trail and soaked my pants and added water droplets to my camera lens. Upon reaching a meadow, I ran into a couple in shorts and T-shirts that were already reapplying bug spray!

lush bushes on doris mountain trail

I was glad to be donning my Columbia long-sleeved shirt and Kuhl pants.  Remarkably the mosquitos weren’t bothering me despite the constant hum in the air.

After the meadow, the trail begins a steady ascent up to a lake.  The lake doesn’t even show on AllTrails, so this was a pleasant surprise to me.  I think some hikers stop here, as it is a nice reward for limited effort.

lake on doris mountain trail

Wildflowers on Doris Mountain

Continuing on, the path climbs to a ridge of magnificent wildflowers. The butterflies liked them as much as I did. The last quarter mile is steep, so take a minute and smell the roses or more specifically the Indian Paintbrush, beargrass, glacier lilies and more.

Views From Doris Mountain

The push to the top is worth the effort.  Fortunately the low clouds had cleared, and the summit provides 360-degree views of contrasting terrain.  One side features farmland while the other side features mountains.  Fortunately, the low clouds had cleared, so the entire valley was on display.  Just below the peak are three turquoise lakes. 

view of doris lakes from doris mountain

These views and the kaleidoscope of colors on the way up really made this hike for me.  I managed to ignore the obnoxious flies buzzing around me for a good 30 minutes before my descent.  I’m really glad I took this 6.2 mile hike to Doris Mountain.  It did not disappoint!  ETB

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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned award winning travel blogger and photographer sharing the earth's beauty one word and image at a time.

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