Bear Creek

OutAndBack • 15.4 mi • 0 ft

With its whitewater cascades, towering granite battlements, and old-growth forests, the trail along Bear Creek easily qualifies as one of the most enjoyable stream-bottom hikes in the Bitterroots—and is also one of the most popular. It is well maintained and climbs quite gradually over most of its length; there are many good turnaround points, as well as a possible side trip along the South Fork of Bear Creek. The trail may also be hiked as the first portion of a longer point-to-point hike into the Big Creek drainage via Bear Creek and Packbox passes. (See Hike 8: Big Creek to Bear Creek for more information.)
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Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Victor
Length: 15.4 total miles
Elevation Gain: Minimal
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Moderate; requires 4 stream crossings that can be tricky at high water
Duration: 8.0–9.5 hours
Season: Best from late June through September
Other Uses: Dog-friendly
Local Contacts: Lolo National Forest
Local Maps: USGS 7.5-minute series: Gash Point, MT-ID; White Sand Lake, ID-MT
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Recent Trail Reviews


This was the first time in 25 years since I was a child that I had been back to this trail. My father took us to fish lake for our first family backpacking trip when I was 7. It is a beautiful trail with stunning views and great stopping off places. Especially the rock face with the stream that runs across its face. ( Good place to cool down on a hot day) We did a day hike this time and stopped at the pass/overlook to fish lake. The trail is good and easy to follow and is not difficult.

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