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Montana Birding and Nature Trail
Discover the Nature of Montana...

Trails and Maps

   

Bass Creek

Butterfly and Dragonfly Haven

Combine birding with butterfly watching.

Explore a nature trail, a fire ecology trail or a hike up the Bass Creek canyon.

Bass Creek Site Map

Download Printable Version of Site Information

Field Notes

Watch for bobolinks on fenceposts as you drive past fields on the county road leading to the Bass Creek canyon and Charles Waters Campground. Sunny summer afternoons are superb for butterfly watching next to the canyon trailhead parking area. In the forest, watch for flocks of red crossbills or the swift flight of a goshawk veering through the trees. Head up the shady, streamside canyon trail leading into the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness and you'll be in winter wren and dipper habitat. Explore the nature and fire ecology trails from the day use site.

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Habitat Link

A profusion of summer native wildflowers attract butterflies like the pale swallowtail and Lorquin's Admiral. As butterflies depend on flowers for nectar, the bobolinks in the valley depend on meadows for nesting. Early mowing of hayfields and housing overtaking meadows is making life tougher for this songbird, notable for its bubbling song and for a round-trip migration of about 12,400 miles to its winter home in South America and back.

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Cultural Link

Follow the 2-1/2-mile fire ecology trail to observe how a 1994 prescribed burn is returning this forest to a park-like stand of ponderosas with healthy aspen and willows. Indians, too, often set fires for many reasons, such as to renew the grasslands and to keep the forest open for easy travel. As late as 1860, John Mullan observed that the grass "had been burnt by the Indians along the Bitter Root river."

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Viewing Tip

Some of the best birding is along the 1/2 mile nature trail loop that wanders between ponderosa pine and the cool, moist grand fir forests by Bass Creek.

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Helpful Hint

When you arrive at the recreation site, go left to the canyon trailhead and right to the day use site. Park at the day use site to access both the nature and fire ecology trails.

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Getting There

5 miles NW of Stevensville and 2 miles west of U.S. Highway 93 via paved road on Bass Creek.

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Contact

Bitterroot National Forest, Stevensville Ranger District, 88 Main St., Stevensville, Montana 59870; (406)777-5461

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Site Information

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