The Bitterroot National Forest is a 1,587,000-acre area in Montana's west-central region. About 50% of the forest includes sections of three wilderness areas — Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness, Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, and Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. The forest offers stunning views of mountains, deep valleys, and prairie lands where wildflowers blaze in color and wildlife flourishes. Bitterroot National Forest topography changes dramatically over short distances from 2,000 feet in elevation to 10,000 feet. The northern reaches of the forest are close to Missoula. The southern borders are near Hamilton, MT, and the west boundary, except for a small section in Idaho, is in the Bitterroot and Sapphire Mountain ranges.
The Bass Creek Trail is an in-and-out pathway that climbs 1,138 feet beside a gurgling stream. At the end of the trail, there is a beautiful waterfall. You can continue to Bass Lake, from which the creek flows, but it is quite a distance further over some challenging terrain.
Length: 6.6 miles
The Bear Creek Overlook Trail, located near Victor, MT, is an in-and-out hiking trail that climbs 1,154 feet in elevation through a series of over 20 switchbacks. The pathway is well marked and relatively easy to walk, considering how high you climb in a short distance. The trail's climax is the overlook that presides over an incredible view of Bear Creek as it roars through the canyon more than a thousand feet below.
Length: 5.2 miles
The Blodgett Canyon to Waterfall path is an in-and-out trail with enough room to allow traffic both ways except in a few locations where outcroppings dictate one-way traffic. Located near Hamilton, MT, this path takes hikers upstream alongside Blodgett Creek to an impressive waterfall. The views of the canyon walls carved out over eons by Blodgett Creek are in full display during the entire hike.
Length: 9.6 miles
Boulder Creek Trail is located near Darby, MT. The hike to the waterfall is relatively easy, with a few places where the path becomes rocky and wet. The trail travels through the valley between Boulder Peak and Trapper Peak, giving hikers breathtaking views throughout the hike. The path is easy enough for all members of the family to hike and enjoy.
Length: 9 miles
Intensity: Easy to Intermediate
Canyon Lake Trail is one of the most challenging climbs in Bitterroot National Park. The first half of the hike is comfortable with a gradual climb up the canyon. However, near the half-way mark, the path is strenuous, climbing nearly 1,500 feet in a short distance. The descent afterward takes you to fantastic views of Canyon Lake, where, if you still have the energy, you can try your luck at fishing.
Length: 10.7 miles
There is an easy way to determine the elevation when traveling through Bitterroot National Forest — observe the vegetation around you. The low-lying areas — 2,000 to 3,000 feet in elevation — are grasslands, often leased by local cattlemen for grazing rights. Between 3,000 and 8,000 feet, the Engelman Spruce and whitebark pine are prevalent. At 8,000 feet, the trees abruptly end, and wildflowers and hardy grasses take over and lay a curtain at the hips of the majestic rock heights that bloom with brilliant color in the spring.
Angling is among the favorite activities that draw visitors to this forest. Creeks filled with trout appear everywhere as glacial runoffs create gurgling streams. Lakes host fish that are available for any licensed angler to try and catch.
Geocaching is a modern game dependent on the GPS. At Bitterroot National Forest, the game gains value as participants must traverse smooth and rough landscapes to find the prize, often in a location with fantastic views.
Many endangered species, such as the grizzly bear, timber wolves, and bighorn sheep, have a home in Bitterroot National Forest. Approved hunting seasons allow registered hunters to pursue big game such as bighorn sheep, mountain goats, elk, white-tailed deer, and mule deer in specific areas of the forest.
Stargazing on a clear night is a favorite activity of every camper who stays at Bitterroot National Forest. The night skies are vivid as there is little to no light pollution. Stargazers who visit here for one clear night understand why early humans described the Milky Way as a sky trail.
Address: 1801 North 1st, Hamilton, MT 59840
Fee: Entry fee $0
If you want to plan an unforgettable vacation, consider visiting Bitterroot National Forest. Taking your family on an RV trip through this forest, with its multidimensional topography, incredible wildlife, and colorful history is an adventure you and your kids will remember for a lifetime. So, find yourself an RV and start building those memories.