lower basin lake

Happy Hiking: Basin Lakes Trail

After spending a few weeks in the Flathead Valley, I moved farther south to Red Lodge, Montana.  Though you can still see many effects from the flood early this summer, the roads and businesses are open, so go support them.

Unfortunately, some of the hikes on the top of my list were not accessible unless I added an additional 8+ miles along a road.  Since those trails were already 10 miles, 18 miles wasn’t in the cards for me.  Fortunately, the Basin Lakes Trail was open, and it was spectacular!


Happy Hiking: Emerald Lake and Heather Lake

After visiting Butte, I made a short stop in Bozeman to visit a Denver friend, Diana, who moved away a few years ago.  It was so great to see her and laugh about how in Colorado we had to be at the trailhead no later than 7am, and in Montana you’re hard pressed to see anyone before noon!

I also got to enjoy a shower and a home cooked meal. That is always nice while being on the road. At David and Diana’s, we had homemade pizza. The pizza was a perfect carb load for my long hike to Emerald Lake and Heather Lake the following day. 

annie at glacier lake with the wind in her face

Glacier Lake and Heart Lake

Having spent the evening in Polson and realizing I had to drive all the way back to Bigfork and then drive back down east of Polson near Condon on a different road, I almost skipped the hike to Glacier Lake and Heart Lake.  That would have been a HUGE mistake!

Getting to Glacier and Heart Lake

The Jewel Basin Hiking Area is an absolute gem, and Glacier Lake and Heart Lake did not disappoint.  The drive to the trailhead is 12 miles down a dirt road.  At the beginning, the road is well graded, but as it climbs, the road narrows and gets rougher.  That said, it is in good condition.


Hike to Crater Lake

As I mentioned in a previous post, I ditched VANgo and retreated to a dog friendly hotel for air conditioning.  So much for fleeing the Texas heat.  I ended up in 100 degrees in Montana!?!  As many say, at least it was dry heat.  But when the sun doesn’t set until 10 pm, and it is over 90 degrees in the van in the shade with the windows and doors open for hours on end, dry heat is pretty hot!

Upon showering and enjoying the A/C, I’m reminded no to take such simple pleasures for granted.  Some people still don’t have these modern conveniences.

Anyway, after a few nights in a hotel, I headed toward Bigfork, Montana to tackle Crater Lake.  The 10.8 mile Crater Lake Trail is located 15 miles northeast of Bigfork in the Jewel Basin Hiking Area in Flathead National Forest.  While only 15 miles away, it takes 45 minutes to get there as much of the drive is on a washboard, dirt road.

bridge on trail to lupine lake

Hike to Lupine Lake

On my recent hike to Stahl Peak in Eureka, I met some ladies from Kalispell who recommended Lupine Lake Trail.  It so happened that I marked it as one of the hikes I wanted to take, so I made sure to check it out.

The 4.9 mile moderate trail to Lupine Lake is located in the Flathead National Forest, about 36 miles west of Kalispell.  The drive to the trail was easy, and road should be called Bunny Hop. I’ve never seen so many rabbits dart across the road.

Despite getting a mid-morning start, I was the first to arrive and parked in the small roadside pullout, with enough room for five cars or so.

lake view from herron park

Herron Park

After visiting Whitefish, I made my way to Kalispell and Herron Park, still in the heat wave.  I’m sure 97 degrees doesn’t sound hot to my friends and relatives in Texas.  But Texans have air conditioning.  VANgo only has air conditioning if plugged in, and I hadn’t made any reservations at campgrounds, which were full.

As a result, from about 3pm to 9pm every day, I couldn’t get the temperature down below 90 degrees despite opening all the doors and windows and running the fan!

smith lake

Smith Lake via Swift Creek Loop

After two days of driving long distances to trails, I wanted something easy, so this time I left Hungry Horse Reservoir and hiked in Whitefish Lake State Park

The Swift Creek Loop trailhead parking with a pit toilet can be found just off East Lakeshore Dr.  The parking area is far more developed than my recent hikes to both Doris Mountain and Jenny Lake.  I was the first to arrive this weekday, but by the time I finished ten cars filled the parking lot.

view from doris mountain

Hike to Doris Mountain

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. 

view from stahl peak

Stahl Peak via Stahl Creek Trail

I don’t think Stahl Creek Trail initially made my list of hikes in Eureka when I was sifting through AllTrails, as I prefer hikes to lakes over mountain tops.  But, after spending two days making long drives into Ten Lakes Scenic Area, I replaced Link Lake with Stahl Creek Trail because it was a shorter drive and a longer hike.

I would suggest to anyone planning on hiking in Ten Lakes Scenic Area for more than one day, to plan on backpacking or staying up there without cell service to cut down the ratio of driving time to hiking time.  If I weren’t in the middle of the selection process for building my townhome or needing internet to blog, this is what I would have done. 

Instead, I spent three days driving back and forth from Eureka. The good news from driving is I saw multiple mama deer with their babies and a rafter of turkeys with their babies!