Founded in Montana, The Happy Clothing Company has a strong attachment to Big Sky Country. Having hiked across a lot of western Montana, we have selected 5 of our favorite hikes, from one of the coolest mountain ranges in Montana, the Bitterroot range. For those of you in western Montana, either living or traveling through, looking for a few awesome adventures for summer 2017, we strongly encourage you to check out these 5 spots. We’ll start with the easiest, and work our way up to the hardest.
Blodgett Overlook – Blodgett Overlook is located only about 5 minutes west of Hamilton, but has views that are almost unparalleled. It is one of the more frequented hikes in the Bitterroot, probably because it has the most bang for its buck. It’s a short 2.8-mile round-trip, with amazing views overlooking into Blodgett Canyon. The trail head starts most of the way up the mountain, leaving very little climbing left for you. For some of you, that may be a drawback, but for those of you looking for a short hike, with an amazing destination, this is one is a must.
- Caution: the hike ends near a thousand-foot cliff to the canyon below, so be wary if you bring young kids.
Looking West into Blodgett Canyon from Blodgett Overlook
Baker Lake – Baker Lake is another beautiful, short hike in the Bitterroot Range. The turn-off for this hike is just south of Darby. From there, it’s about 40 minutes up a 9-mile-long dirt road that leads deep into the mountains. The drive is bumpy, but well worth it. This hike is about the same distance as Blodgett Overlook, roughly 2.6 miles round-trip, but it’s a little more demanding. The first 3/4 of a mile are very steep, before it finally levels out for the remaining half mile to the lake. The lake is a decent size, with great fishing and unbelievable views. For such a short hike, it isn’t very frequented, likely due to the long and demanding drive to the trail head. For those of you with a little more ambition, there are two more lakes beyond Baker Lake, that you can continue to from the backside of Baker. The trail, however, becomes a little hard to follow at times. The furthest of the lakes is Gem Lake, which is located on the backside of Trapper Peak, a hike that will appear later on this list. Typically, lakes in the Bitterroot require much longer hikes, so for those of you looking for some great fishing and swimming without a long hike, this is a great option.
Camas Lake – Camas Lake is about 5-10 miles south of Hamilton on the west side of the highway. Again, the trail head is at the end of a long, rough dirt road. This lake is another relatively short hike. Roughly 6-miles round trip, this is a great, moderately difficult day hike option. It begins fairly level for the first mile or so, before beginning an accent for the next couple of miles to the lake. While this is a great day hike, there are also several great camping spots. This is a frequented hike, so if you want to reserve one of the several camping spots, you may want to get an early start. Camas offers good fishing and swimming if you’re willing to brave the cold. If you want to do some summer camping, but don’t want to carry your heavy pack 10 miles up a mountain, Camas Lake is a great destination.
Canyon Lake – Our personal favorite hike in the Bitterroot Range, Canyon Lake is a rigorous and challenging hike up to a quintessential Montana alpine lake. Stated as a 9 mile round trip hike by most trail sites, we clocked the round trip at about 11 miles. The first 3-4 miles are at a fairly steady, but not an overly strenuous incline. After the first 3-4 miles, the trail takes a right, and begins straight up the side of the canyon for about a mile to a mile and a half. This part will take its toll on you if you’re not in hiking shape (and probably even if you are). After that, the trail levels off, before finally heading down to the lake. The trail can be difficult to track once you get closer to the lake, as you scurry across a lot of granite surfaces. The lake is a beautiful turquoise, and offers great fishing and swimming (again, if you’re not afraid to brave the cold). Canyon Lake seems to reside within its own weather pattern, and is often far colder and windier than the climate below. Dress accordingly. This hike is our favorite for a reason. While it’s a more challenging hike, the views will not disappoint.
Looking down onto Canyon Lake from the ridge above.
Trapper Peak – The highest peak (over 10,100 ft.) in the Bitterroot Mountain Range, Trapper Peak makes you earn the unbelievable views it has to offer. The turnoff to Trapper Peak trail head is south of Darby, located near the turnoff for Baker Lake. There are multiple ways to ascend Trapper Peak. You can access it from the Trapper Creak trail head, the Baker Lake trail head, and the Trapper Peak trail head. The hike we are referring to starts at the Trapper Peak trail head. Starting at just over 6,000 ft. in elevation, and over 4 miles, rising to over 10,000 ft., this is by far the most difficult hike on this list, and possibly one of the most difficult in all the Bitterroot. Around 8 miles round trip, the journey to Trapper Peak, is essentially a 4 mile stair-stepper. This trail is not for the novice hiker. The first half of the hike winds its way through a densely treed forest, before you emerge above the tree line, for a more rocky, exposed hike for the remaining half of the accent. From the highest point in the Bitterroot Range, at the top of Trapper Peak you have unobstructed views as far as the eye can see. Spectacular and awe-inspiring, the views help you forget the treacherous climb up (okay maybe not completely). Unfortunately, the way down isn’t much easier, as your knees take the brunt of the force on the steep descent. If you are in great hiking shape, and looking for a good story, give Trapper Peak a try. Being a day hike, with no great protected areas for camping, you might want to get an early start to this one.
Looking West from the top of Trapper Peak
For the team at The Happy Clothing Company, nothing makes us happier than an unbelievable mountain hike. We hope this list finds everyone with an equal love and passion for the mountains, and that some of you put it to use this summer. If you do end up going on any of these hikes this summer, snap a picture, post it to Instagram and/or Facebook, and @TheHappyClothingCompany so we can see some of you Happy Seekers Finding Your Happy.
Do More. Be Happy.
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