One of my requirements for a summer hike is that a creek, river or lake be part of the experience. Kootenai Creek Trail provides that in spades as the white water of Kootenai Creek tumbles over rocks and boulders beside this Bitterroot National Forest trail for a good part of the journey. At approximate the 9 mile mark is Kootenai Lakes—a series of alpine lakes at the 6,000 elevation mark, which is about a 2,600 feet gain in elevation from the trailhead. Since our backpacking days are over (actually mine never happened), Alan and I agree that we’ll most likely never make it to Kootenai Lakes. We’re satisfied to hike 2 and1/2 miles to the sign that designates the entrance to the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness before turning around and heading for home. That makes a 5-mile-round-trip hike that’s just about right for us.
When we start our hike around 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning, the trail belongs to us for about the first two hours, although we do have to be vigilant for gifts that horses have deposited along the way—Kootenai Creek Trail is multi-use. On the return portion of the hike, the traffic picks up. We meet hikers of all ages on the trail, many have brought their dogs along and some are toting a fishing pole as they look for just the right spot on the creek for fly-fishing. It’s a friendly crowd and we return to the trailhead with lots of advice for next time.
Have you seen the Montana photos that we’ve posted on Donna’s Instagram account? Follow her at DonnaLHull.
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