We decided to try out the Upper Montana Creek Trail (Map - look for Montana Creek). If you follow the trailhead you eventually end up at Windfall Lake and the upper Glacier Highway about 8 miles. We didn't get that far on our hike but think it might be doable if you take an overnight at the cabin at Windfall Lake.
The trail started out at the end of Montana Creek Road and started as about a 1 1/2 mile gravel road that followed the creek. Really easy bike riding road with a few small bridges. This is probably where people x-country ski in the winter. A little elevation but nice a wide with no roots or big rocks. Then we crosses a small bridge over a stream and got on the "real" trail: a pathway that was dry and relatively root free that wound through the woods, again right alongside the creek. As we followed the creek the trees started to tower around us, blocking the bright sun.
As we started to climb (very gently) we came across a couple of landslides where the slate covered the trail. Most of these spots we could get across easily. A couple of them were on pretty steep slopes and were much higher from the creek. We forged ahead though, not ready to turn around. I wasn't able to get any landslide pictures - my hands were busy holding on to whatever vegetation I could find. Besides it makes Tim nervous when I lallygag on cliffs.
There's a couple of really nice things about hiking in the fall:
- most of the smaller vegetation is gone so you can really look around, especially the devils club which can grow to be taller than I am when its close to water.
- the mud is frozen so its not so mucky
- you don't sweat much (if at all)
- there's not as many people around
- small pieces of shale doesn't slide as much if its frozen to each other
- your water stays cold
- you don't have to worry about packing extra clothes in case if rains because you're already wearing everything
We aren't quite sure how far we walked - we're thinking that we went more than half-way to the Windfall Lake Cabin. We got a later start then we had expected and didn't want to be out on the trail in the dark so we reluctantly turned around and headed back.
Tim mentioned that he didn't realize how much we had actually climbed because the trip home really seemed all downhill!
As we were walking back on the gravel road we realized that the sun was still shining brightly and we caught this look at Mt McGinnis.