Lolo National Forest Overview
Lolo National Forest ranges between the Bitterroot Mountains and the west slope of the Continental Divide. Its terrain ranges between the rugged and the gentle. You'll find snow-peaked Rocky Mountains, cold trout rivers, vast wilderness, and sheer, granite cliffs and canyons. And you'll also find big-sky valleys bristled with lodgepole pine and subalpine fir.
While in the forest, search for a glimpse of mountain wildlife, hear the loons of Seeley Lake, canoe the Clark Fork River and explore the Rattlesnake Wilderness.
Backpack Stuart Peak and Twin Lakes
The Stuart Peak/Twin Lakes Trail roams around the Rattlesnake Wilderness' alpine terrain that surrounds Stuart Peak. Although this spectacularly wild loop itself is only 9.5 miles, the hike can be difficult at times. There are also many paths that break off from the main trail that allow for a longer and more thorough trip within the region.
Climb the Heap
Deep within the Bitterroot Mountains lie forty miles of precipitous canyons and coarse, granite drops reaching to 300 feet. Here is Lolo Pass, where pockets, wedges and cracks lend these friction climbs variety and keep your adrenaline pumping. One climb has recently charmed great interest—this is the Heap, located off Highway 12. Its eight climbs, which range from 5.6 to 5.11, are perfect for the novice climber. More difficult climbs are located directly west and southwest of the Heap.
Fish Rock Creek
Deemed a "blue-ribbon" trout stream, Rock Creek is considered one of the best fast-water trout streams in Montana. Here, in close proximity to Missoula, you can fish rainbow and brown trout and whitefish. Lolo offers some other great fishing in the Clark Fork and Bitterroot Rivers.
Camp Bitterroot Flat
Engulfed by Douglas firs and Ponderosa Pine, this rustic campground borders the famous trout site, Rock Creek, and provides access to Easthouse National Recreation Trail. The beauty of this location is in its tranquility and calming sounds of the nearby rushing water. Your visit may include a peek at bighorn sheep, bear or moose if you are lucky.
Move on to Lolo Campground Guide
Paddle the Clearwater River
These gentle waters provide a great opportunity to gain better familiarity with the forest. Sometimes referred to as the "Clearwater Canoe Trail," this 3.5-mile stretch winds through the Seeley Lake Region. In addition to Lolo's fabulous forest scenery, deer, moose, finches, grebes, ducks and warblers frequent the shoreline. At the end of the route is the Seeley Lake, where more exploration of the region can be done on footpaths.
Find a Bighorn Sheep
Sometimes it can be very difficult to find these mountain dwellers while lurking in the forest. But in some ranger districts, there are areas designated for the purpose of catching a glimpse. At the Petty Creek Bighorn Sheep Viewing Site in the Ninemile Ranger District and the Koo-Koo-Sint Bighorn Sheep Viewing Site in Plains/Thomson Falls Ranger District, you can find viewing sites as well as hiking and other wildlife.
Ski Seeley Lake Nordic Trail
This ski trail complex lies just south of the Seeley Ranger District. Its 12 routes encompass a variety of expertise levels and ruggedness—from the well groomed to the untracked. Also nearby are some powdery sites for the downhill skier. These alpine attractions include the Snow Bowl or Marshall ski areas, found right in the forest near Missoula.
Bike Blue Mountain
More than five thousand acres of meadow, forest roads and mountainous terrain scatter the Blue Mountain Recreation Area in the Missoula Ranger District. While mountain biking through many of the bike trails in this area, you will traverse spectacular views of the Missoula Valley as well as a collection of forest wildlife.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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