Today being a lovely day, we decided on a whim that we’d go for a hike. Normally, we avoid the trails on the weekends, but after being deprived of the outdoors for close to the whole month of August due to the smoke in the valley, we thought we’d give it a go. We hadn’t hiked Bass Creek yet, so despite it’s somewhat lengthy distance from us (about 25-30 minutes away from home base), we gave it a try.
First of all… don’t hike in the Bitterroots on the weekend if you want a relaxing time to be at one with the wilderness. Weekends are bizzaaaayyy. (Do as I say, not as I do, kids.) The proximity of this particular trail to Missoula probably doesn’t help with the busyness. We probably passed a total of between 7-8 other groups of hikers, which over the duration of two miles out and two miles back, I would consider to be a bunch of peoples.
We didn’t get to stop and take many shots of the trail thanks to an older lady with three off-leash Springer Spaniels on our heels. Diesel’s a pretty good dog, but he definitely isn’t a huge fan of packs of loose dogs. Here are the few that we did manage to get…
Despite the trouble, the trail was quite pretty. Or rather, I could see the ghost of a very pretty trail. The temperature was great, and there was a really consistent tree cover, which makes all the difference on a hike. With no more snow melt to swell their tides, the creeks are pretty low at the end of September. There’s also been a nasty drought in the valley this year, and along with an especially low water level, I noticed a whole lot of really dry tinder. In late spring/early summer (or not during a drought), my guess is its absolutely gorgeous.
On our personal scale of difficulty (one being mostly flat and 10 being What the hell were we thinking?) I would give this trail a 6.5 or 7. It was mostly wide and relatively easy to hike side by side, with the dog ahead at the end of his leash. There were some sections that were just narrow enough to have to go single file. The two miles that we hiked followed closely next to Bass Creek, with several little paths we could take down to water the dog. Sounds idyllic, right? Well, it was STEEP. Not steep like ‘Ward Mountain steep’, but we did ascend about a thousand feet in 2 miles, and we were rushing to try to keep ahead of the spaniels on our tail, so it kicked our butts. My highest heart rate was about 96%, which (for me at least) is scary high. There was pretty much zero downhill until we turned to go back.
All in all, I would definitely give Bass Creek another go, but on a week day, and probably not until early next summer when the scenery is definitely worth the effort.