Friday, July 23, 2010

Piper Lake Mission Mountains Wilderness July 19, 2010

Piper Lake with mountains in the background

Location: The Mission Mountain range borders the western end of Swan Valley and the eastern edge of Flathead Lake. The higher country of the Mission Mts. is very rugged with alpine lakes and dramatic cliffs. It tops out at an elevation around 8,000 ft. This year June in Montana was very cool and rainy so I decided to go for a hike in the northern part of the range especially when I saw how much snow was still in the southern part of the range. I chose Piper Creek because it is close to the southern end of Swan lake. To access the trail head take Highway 83 to Forest Service access road 966 (a sign for Piper Creek also shows the way).
The hike: Today I went for a hike with my dog Nevada. The hike to and from Piper Lake is a nine mile round trip. The first part of the hike is somewhat monotonous because it meanders through logged forest to the wilderness sign. The trail continues to follow Piper creek climbing the last mile to Piper Lake. From Piper Lake the trail continues on to Cedar Lake and Fatty Creek. Tree life in the Mission mountains is very similar to the Swan Range but this hike had more Western Larch. Remember the Missions have Black and Grizzly Bear populations. Hikers need to be aware and make noise. Backpackers need to hang their food and cook away from their tent.

                                            Bear Grass with Thimble Berry leaves in the background

Nevada looking into the wilderness at lake's edge

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