Saturday, July 29, 2017
Jewel Basin, Montana July 18, 2017
This is one of six posts related to a Montana trip in July of 2017.
For my last hike in Montana I chose to go to Jewel Basin. Jewel Basin is a beautiful hiking area in the northern part of the Swan Range. The most popular trail head is at Camp Misery and most popular hike is up to Mount Aeneas. Lesser used trails drop into the basin itself where hikers can explore 27 lakes. To reach this hiking area follow Montana Highway 83 to Echo Lake Road. Follow the signs to Forest Service Road 5392. In July of 2017 5392 had wash boarding so watch your car and drive slowly. During the weekend the parking lot at Camp Misery can be crowded so start your hike early in the morning.
The Hike: Looking at the map I noticed it was possible to combine multiple trails and hike a loop. Trails involved include #8 which goes above Twin Lakes where it joins Alpine Trail #7 for 0.5 miles. The next trail you are looking for is 719 which descends down to Blackfoot Lake. If you walk to Blackfoot Lake watch for the trail because it is tough to follow in places. In fact I lost the trail for 20 minutes before finding it again when I retraced my steps. From Blackfoot Lake 719 ascends precipitously into the main basin where it passes a number of lakes with no names before passing above Black Lake. The trail from here ascends rapidly to a divide near Mount Aeneas before descending back toward Camp Misery. The loop is about 10.5 miles total. One of the tough things about this loop is the amount of up and down in fact there are two major climbs in the hike. On this hike I saw a profusion of wildflowers. Species seen included: Bear grass, Glacier lilies, Indian paintbrush, Alpine Forget-me nots, Daisies, Fireweed and Lupine.