Hiking the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness
by Scott Steinberg (Falcon Guides)
© Scott Steinberg/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.
This hike is incredible. I only went in to the pack bridge about three miles in, but plan on hiking further in next year. The views are spectacular, even awe-inspiring. The steep canyon walls made me feel tiny. The trail is very busy with hikers and horses. There is a very small campground at the trailhead. It's free, but you have to be pretty lucky to get a spot. Lots of nice little camp spots along the trail.
This is a very beautiful area. We went to High Lake, which is a strenuous hike if you go when there is snow (like we did). camping at High Lake was pretty good...we slept in the cabin that was there. However, there was 4-5 ft. of snow up at Blodgett Lake when we went....so we ended up camping at six mile meadows.
Here is my trail report for this hike, which includes photos and videos:
Endless views of high granite peaks, solitude, clear, cool, snow melt waters and abundant wildlife describe Blodgett Canyon.
Near the trailhead, expect to find many trail users, but pushing on past the waterfall at about 4.5-miles rewards you with solitude beyond. Over a three day, two night trip we only encountered three other groups above the waterfall though the trail was quite crowded up to that point and especially near the trailhead. The trail beyond the waterfall, too, is easier to follow, levels out and becomes less rocky.
We were charged (bluffed) by a moose protecting her calf, experienced sleet approaching the lake and enjoyed one of the most fantastic summer days atop the pass.
The area has much recovered since the 2000 fire mentioned in a previous review. There is still evidence of recent (within the last decade) avalanches having crashed through the canyon taking with them many trees, but the trail is clear and easy to follow as of July 2009.
Bear grass grows abundantly in mid-July and many other wildflowers can be seen blooming along the trail. Bring a bucket for the blueberries!
Fly fishing upstream of the bridge is popular among locals and for good reason. There are many pools in which to spend a day wading and casting.
Blodgett Canyon is beautiful and the hike to Blodgett Lake is one that should not be missed. The highlights for me included the spectacular granite canyon walls highlighted against blue sky, the dancing falls at 4.4 miles, the vistas and wildflowers of 7-mile meadow, and the lake itself. The solitude of the lake was refreshing and the campsites are in very good condition.
Two items made the hike challanging. First, The U.S. Forest Service has not yet been able to send crews to clear the trail. This caused the trail to be passable only with much determination, and a few scrapes, etc. Winter avalanches after mile 10 caused entire groves of large trees to be laid across the trail. Removing the felled trees will be more difficult because of the area's wilderness designation.
A second concern is falling trees/limbs from burned trees that remain standing after the huge fires in Montana's Bitterroot Valley in 2000. The days were a bit windy, and a few snags fell as I walked down the trail.
The fires in no way reduced the beauty of this canyon. In fact, it is amazing to watch nature recover in the areas of the canyon that were burned in 2000. This canyon is and will remain special to my family, as it is to a great many residents of Western Montana.
Sign in/up to upload photos.
Keep Me Informed
Weekly newsletters, announcements and offers from Trails.com to your inbox.
We HATE spam and promise to keep your email addresses safe and secure.