The Jewel Basin Complex

Bigfork, Montana 59911

The Jewel Basin Complex

The Jewel Basin Complex Professional Review and Guide

"The Jewel Basin Hiking Area is widely known for its numerous small lakes set among charming alpine meadows and miniature fir forests. The trailhead is at 5,760 feet elevation, providing one of the few high-altitude access points to the Swan Range. Most of the hikes in the area are of moderate difficulty and offer day hiking opportunities for young and old alike.

Overnight users should camp in designated areas to minimize their impacts on this fragile alpine basin. Horses, mountain bikes, and motorized vehicles are prohibited from using these popular trails. As a result, the trails hold up well even during rainstorms and are rarely muddy."

More The Jewel Basin Complex Professional Reviews and Guides

"An easy trip into a popular hiking and fishing area in the Swan range in the northwestern corner of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Jewel Basin is ideal for an easy base camp, so the itinerary is simple. The only decisions are where to set up the base camp, how long to stay, and which day hikes to take from your base camp. Jewel Basin isn’t a designated Wilderness, but the Forest Service manages it like one — no logging, motor vehicles, or development. Because of the easy access from the Flathead Valley, this area can get crowded, but mainly on weekends. If you hike here during the week, the human population won’t seem too large."

"Jewel Basin is a 15,000-acre hiking area north of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. No motor vehicles are allowed in Jewel Basin, although snowmobilers utilize the access road and nearby snowmobile trails. Within Jewel Basin are some 35 miles of marked hiking and skiing trails plus the 3- to 6-mile ski-in; however, most climb into the area to telemark, snowboard, or alpine tour. Because the terrain is mountainous, climbing skins and edged skis are necessary.

You should also come equipped with avalanche gear, including transceivers, probe poles, and shovels, and be thoroughly familiar with the principles and techniques of avalanche safety. Winter camping is popular in Jewel Basin. Permits are not required; however, campfires are banned from four lakeside camp-grounds. Dogs are allowed here but must be leashed at all times. Surface quality: Backcountry."

"An easy trip into a popular hiking and fishing area in the Swan Range near the northwestern corner of the Bob Marshall Wilderness, suitable for both day hiking and backpacking, and ideal for an extended base camp trip. Jewel Basin is ideal for an easy base camp, so the itinerary is simple.

The only decisions are where to set up the base camp, how long to stay, and which day hikes to take from your base camp. Jewel Basin isn’t a designated Wilderness, but the Forest Service manages it like one—no logging, motor vehicles, or development. Because of the easy access from the Flathead Valley, this area can get crowded, but mainly on weekends."

"Jewel Basin is a 15,000-acre hiking area north of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. No motor vehicles are allowed in Jewel Basin, although snowmobilers utilize the access road and nearby snowmobile trails. Within Jewel Basin are some 35 miles of marked hiking and skiing trails plus the 3- to 6-mile ski-in; however, most climb into the area to telemark, snowboard, or alpine tour. Because the terrain is mountainous, climbing skins and edged skis are necessary.

You should also come equipped with avalanche gear, including transceivers, probe poles, and shovels, and be thoroughly familiar with the principles and techniques of avalanche safety. Winter camping is popular in Jewel Basin. Permits are not required; however, campfires are banned from four lakeside camp-grounds. Dogs are allowed here but must be leashed at all times. Surface quality: Backcountry."

"An easy trip into a popular hiking area in the Swan range in the northwestern corner of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. The Jewel Basin isn’t a designated wilderness, but the Forest Service manages it like one—no logging, motor vehicles, or development. Because of the easy access from the Flathead Valley, this area can get crowded, but mainly on weekends. If you hike here during the week, the human population won’t seem too large.

The first order of business on this hike is to pick your base camp. Two excellent options are Black Lake, 8 miles out-and-back, and any one of the four Jewel Lakes, a 9-mile round trip. An even easier choice would be Twin Lakes, a stunningly beautiful pair of “jewels” in a small basin only a 5-mile round trip from the trailhead. Special attractions: Subalpine scenery and good fishing lakes on a trail easy enough for beginners, families, or elderly hikers."

The Jewel Basin Complex Reviews

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9/15/2012
THIS IS SOME OF THE MOST PRISTINE HIKING AREAS I'VE EVER VISITED (IN OR., WASH., MONT., ARIZONA, UTAH, OR NEV. WILDLIFE ABOUNDS. THE ROAD IS SO BAD THAT NOT ALOT OF PEOPLE GO THERE.
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7/15/2010
We didn't actually do this full loop, because we also went to the big hawk lakes. But we did get to Black Lake, which is a very scenic lake. There was still a lot of snow in the area, but around the lake was dry when we went. The lake sees a lot of lures, but it was great fishing when we were there. To see my full review of this area, go to this url: http://chrisroane.blogspot.com/2010/07/jewel-basin.html
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8/19/2009
6 of us took a day hike from Camp Misery Trailhead to Wildcat Lake. The trail on the whole is pretty well maintained, mostly dirt with some patches of large gravel and rocks. The trail is very clear through Twin Lakes, but we had a bit of trouble finding our way to Wildcat. The map makes it look like you just go straight and the trail ends, but that's not quite right - you have to take a right fork a little less than a mile before the lake. The turn isn't well marked if you're coming from Misery, but if you look at the intersection from the opposite side the sign is readily apparent. The last mile to Wildcat is pretty steep going down what looks like a big glacier-carved halfpipe. It definitely gets you good and warmed up immediately after leaving the lake - give yourself time after eating to let your food settle.
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7/23/2009
Great area with plenty of wildlife, great scenery and a magnificent sub alpine environment. The only problem is that the well maintained trails are poorly (if at all) marked. It is a popular area with multiple routes. If you go, and you should, find a good topo map and don't rely on the forest service for mapping or signage.
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9/17/2007
We took a day hike from the Camp Misery trail head to Twin Lakes (trail 8) and back around via trails 7 and 68 to the trail head (perhaps a total of 6 miles, including being a bit lost -- see below). The views were spectacular both to the west going to Twin Lanes, and to the east coming back. The initial part of the trail was a moderate grade, but most of the rest of the hike was generally level and fairly easy for us middle-aged moderately-active hikers. However, do not rely on the trail map in the Falcon guide on Trails.com. It is both inaccurate (the southerly portion of trail 7 shown on the map is actually trails 1 and 392) and incomplete (many side trails, including the correct exit trail back to the trail head) are missing. Following it cost us about an hour of serious worry as we tried to find our way back to the parking lot in the late afternoon on the high plateau with no camping equipment. The map posted at the trail head itself is quite accurate, or you can download an accurate map by searching on 'Jewel Basin' at the Forest Service web site. Well worth the visit!
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5/23/2006
My family and I headed up to hike Jewel Basin, which looked gorgeous from in town! Alas, it is May in Montana, and the road was snowed over about two miles from the trailhead. We did, however, see a black bear cub! Happy trails, and don't hike Jewel Basin til mid-June!
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The Jewel Basin Complex Photos

Trail Information

Bigfork
Nearby City
Several options
Trail Type
Moderate
Skill Level
Day hike or backpack
Duration
Best July through September
Season
Snowmobiling
Additional Use
Flathead National Forest
Local Contacts
USGS Jewel Basin, Crater Lake
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Oct 2018