Ross Creek Cedars – Trail Talk Thursdays (001)

First off, here’s some footage from around the Cedars for you more visual types!

In keeping with the theme of this blog, I figured we could have a consistent schedule for subject matter and days. Last Saturday I established the “Some Thoughts on…” series. I had a decent amount of hits and figured I’d follow that type of idea moving forward. Tuesday we established Mountain Tech Tuesdays, in which I cover the latest gear, season products, etc. I though this would be cool cause it can not only provide me with a reasonable idea as to what piece of gear i would buy, but it can give other’s an idea of what to get without having to leave the comfort of their own home. Not as many hits, but it was the first day… so we’ll see if it works in due time.

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Continuing this train, I figured we could do something similar but perhaps even more helpful. The idea is to take trails I’ve actually done, and give a comprehensive review based on time of year, duration, and difficulty. This could vary from casual hikes to extreme mountain scrambles. Mountain biking roads to skiing chutes. A wide span of types in order to give others a wider selection and idea. Moving forward, I may include multiple trails in one article so as to cover one geographic area to save you time – but that’ll be a bridge to cross when we get there.

So, to kick off our Trail Talk Tuesdays, let’s start with the Ross Creek Cedar Trail in the Cabinet Mountain Range in Northwest Montana.

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Firstly, I did this hike in March. The temp that day started in the low 20s but got to high 40s by the peak of the day. It was nearly cloudless and definitely got warm once you started moving. Snowpack was “unusually deep” for the time of year.

To start, it’s in a relatively remote location… you’ll have to start at Libby, MT in the East or Troy, MT in the West. both these will run along I – 2 where you will then head south on MT-56 until you hit Bull Lake. There’s a turnoff to the west, and then you’ll drive about 3 miles to the trailhead. There is a further road which leads all the way up to the cedars, but this is only open late spring to early fall (and I haven’t hit it in the summer yet).

Starting from the trailhead parking, you’re looking at about 2.5-3 miles of hiking one direction. This really isn’t that bad considering there are many other hikes around the area that are far more difficult to do. The hike is not steep throughout it’s duration, although during the winter you will need snowshoes so this will be an added difficulty for you to surmount.

The hike is on a road, which has 3 major switchbacks. From the start of the hike, you’ll be moving from thicker trees on the left and sparse on the right to thicker trees on either side of the road. As you push on, you’ll begin to veer left as you make way to parallel the river. After passing another opening of trees to your left and reenter the trees, you’ll begin to push against the side of the mountain. You’ll make a quick lefthand turn and pushing up the hill you will start to see treebreaks on the left. This is where you can see the Yak Peaks on the other side of 56.

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As you move up this portion of the hill, you will veer right to parallel the river. This will put you about 1 mile or so from the Cedar Trailhead and summer parking lot. Continue moving forward, and to your right you’ll have another open area of trees. Getting closer to the cedars, you will notice the trees seem larger and the river is getting closer to the trail. These are all good signs you are getting close!

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Finally, after the push, you make it to the trail! This is a good place to take in a very old forest and ponder the world. As you enter the groove, the sun suddenly seems to fade – the background noise of the animals seems to increase. You’ve entered a whole new world. Moving along the gentle babble of the brook, you are guided by the winding trailing, bounding over fallen trees.

This is the essence of the Ross Creek Cedar Trail – to have a feeling of literally stepping into another land. Someplace familiar yet oh so different. If you get the chance I highly recommend checking it out!

As a note, if you’re going to be doing this for the sake of photography the cedars themselves are not easy to shoot due to the extreme range of lighting, so I highly recommend bringing a ‘fast’ camera with you. Also, if you’re shooting for the group expect to bring some extra snacks as you will be doing double the distance they do!

I hope you found the article useful, if you’d like to see more of my content in the future be sure to follow or sign up for the newsletter. If you have any recommendations of trail type or locations please feel free to share them in the comments!

What is your favorite trail? How did it inspire you?

Until the next one, Mahalo!

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