My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Hike in Rattlesnake National Recreation Area

The  thing I love most about working in the northwest is the remarkable amount of public lands on which to play.  I had to go to Missouli, so chose to go bird watching in the morning, run some errands, then hike, before getting my groceries.

I found my way to the Rattlesnake Recreation Area and then noticed I had a plethora of  choices. And by the looks of the full parking lot, a lot of people planned to be hiking or riding bikes in the area, even though the day had turned cloudy. AND there is a separate parking lot for horse trailers.  Each trail is labeled as to who can use it.  All can be hiked, but on some ridden on horseback or bicycle.

Part of the large parking lot
I started off along Rattlesnake Creek which was running full, fast and loud from the snow melt.This wide trail was through a flat area and I saw a few families with children along here. I also took several short detours to get better views of the creek and look for blooming wildflowers.

I think this is large false Soloman's seal

The trail was wide, flat and well maintained along the creek.
Some of the signs along the trails were about invasive plants.  The signs and even the map of the area asks you to pull up ten of the noxious weeds and to check yourself and your dog for seeds and remove them.

One of the noxious weeds - leafy spurge
Soon I decided to leave this trail and hike up through Spring Gulch, which went up into Strawberry Ridge. But even here, I found a bathroom. I meant to climb higher but spent lot of time chasing bees and flies - sometimes I couldn't tell what I was chasing until I blew up the picture.  So I ended up turning before I meant to. 

A real bathroom way out in the woods

A tiny creek made for a much nicer hiking  music but was mostly invisible

One of the bees I found
 I headed down Stuart Park Trail, which parallels Spring Gulch.  Soon I was finding signs of the people who used to live in this area. Lilacs are always indicators of former dwellings.

 There were lots of wildflowers blooming, and most of them were ones that grow in open forests so we don't have them on the refuge.

Tall lupines grew in big groups

The first red  Indian paint brush I have see around here.
The longer I hiked, the smaller the trails became. I met several people - some hiking with dogs, some on bikes, and a group of young men hiking to the area where they are allowed to camp. When I reached another junction, I decided I needed to walk more longer, so took a trail that wound up hill.  This would not have been so bad except I'd walked about five miles already, sostruggled to reach the top.

Will this trail ever end?
But finally I got to the top and started back down.  Soon the woods gave way to meadows and I started to find Mariposa lilies among the grass. Some kind of beetle had also found them.

Only a few miles left to go to get back into the valley in the back left of this picture
The trail wound down and around and finally entered another wooded area.  I came out on to a road that was closed to cars - this is Sawmill Gulch.  There is also a narrow,  parallel trail that wound through the woods and was very popular with cyclists.  Finally I reached the parking lot.  This was a trip of about eight miles.

I was tired and ready to go home but still had to go grocery shopping. But I did have fun except for maybe the last mile.  Hopefully I can get back in shape be able to walk fifteen miles at a time.  Some of the prettiest places take a lot of work to get to them.