Hike to Jenny Lake and Hungry Horse Dam

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After the long drive to Doris Mountain yesterday, I was a little leery about the drive to Jenny Lake.  It is also located in the Flathead National Forest near Hungry Horse Reservoir.  Fortunately, the drive up the well graded dirt road was short and easy. The parking was limited with one other car already there. 

Doris Creek Trail

The Doris Creek Trail (not to be confused with Doris Mountain Trail) begins as a wide path as it gradually ascends through the forest.  Despite lush vegetation and a variety of wildflowers, the first part is not shaded.

Eventually the long double track narrows into short switch backs as it climbs up the mountain beneath the evergreens.  The 8.1 mile hike opens to intermittent views before it reaches the top of lovely Jenny Lake. Note: the description in AllTrails say 7.4, but the map says 8.1.

Annie and I descended the rocks to the shore and crossed to a peninsula which provided a perfect spot for our snacks.  The fish were hitting the surface as a cool breeze rippled across the lake.  We had the lake to ourselves, as we never saw the owner of the lone car in the parking area.

Just was we were beginning to pack up, two girls and another dog joined, so they got to enjoy the tranquil setting all to themselves!

Upon our return, near the end we ran into two dirt bikers. I wonder if sharing the trail with dirt bikes is why there were more hikers on Doris Mountain than at Jenny Lake.  Because Jenny Lake is easier to reach and though longer, the incline was softer, making it an easier trail.

While it isn’t terribly fun to hike with moving vehicles, to their credit, the dirt bikers were friendly and not going fast, so I was able to collect Annie as they passed.

The last part of the hike was definitely sunny and warm, so get an early start if you are hiking in the 95 degree heat wave like I did!

The Hungry Horse Dam

After our hike, I stopped in at the Hungry Horse Dam constructed between 1945-1950. The dam got its name from two freight horses working in the area years prior. They wandered off during a 1900-01 snowstorm. After struggling for a month in belly deep snow, they were found starving. Some loggers exclaimed those are some mighty hungry horses. The name stuck!

Visitors may drive and walk across the dam. While I had driven across it each of the last two days, I was surprised to be able to walk across the dam and take photographs. Since 9/11, strict security is in place at many dams including the Hoover Dam and the Libby Dam, both of which I’ve toured.

As I walked across taking pictures, I kept waiting for the blare of loud speaker, “Ma’am, step away from the dam. Do not stop on the dam.” But it never came.

The 564 foot Hungry Horse Dam is the 10th highest concrete dam in the USA with the highest spillway. At the time of its construction, which is documented in the Visitor Center, it was the 4th highest in the world. The dam was built for flood control and electricity production. The resulting reservoir is 34 miles long with 170 miles of shoreline.

Hungry Horse Reservoir

The Hungry Horse Reservoir is popular among campers, boaters, and fishermen and the surrounding mountains are popular among hunters and outdoor enthusiasts. The drive around the dam is very scenic, though download a map because cell service is limited. Keep an eye out for deer, osprey, and other wildlife. 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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