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

Trails and Maps

   

Bear Creek Trail

Peregrine Eyrie

The site of an active peregrine eyrie

Peregrine falcons were successfully re-established in the Bitterroot in the early 1990s.

Bear Creek Trail Site Map

Download Printable Version of Site Information

Field Notes

Walk up the canyon trail into a temperate rainforest. Winter wren melodies chime through an understory of western yew, a low-growing evergreen with cancer-healing properties. Watch and listen for yellow-rumped warblers, Townsend's warblers, western tanagers, Swainson's thrush, and both species of kinglets. Note woodpecker holes in ancient larches. Far above, you may hear the high calls of white-throated swifts and the cry of a peregrine falcon. Pikas make their homes in talus slopes. Garter snakes bask in early morning sun on the trail. If you are lucky you may encounter a slow moving cryptic snake, the rubber boa.

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Habitat Link

Peregrine falcons were once endangered from DDT spraying. Today, witness the recovery of our fastest-flying bird (recorded dives at over 200 miles per hour). Peregrines have nested on the high rocky cliffs in this canyon since 1996, and in several other Bitterroot canyons.

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Viewing Tip

Take a spotting scope for peregrine viewing in spring and summer. Watch for them perched on the steep canyon walls or flying overhead. The best viewing area is an hour hike up the trail. A sighting is never guaranteed, but knowing the birds find a home here is a gratifying success story.

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Helpful Hint

Hike a half-hour up the trail to an excellent viewpoint of the high cliffs and the foaming whitewater of Bear Creek below you. The best birding is where the creek runs quietest and bird songs are more audible. In May, the creek can run high with snowmelt - dramatic but more difficult for birding.

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Getting There

From Highway 93 south of Victor, take the Bear Creek Road west (across from Tucker Crossing). Drive 2.4 miles on a paved road. Take a right (north) on Red Crow Road. Drive 1 mile, then left (west) 3 miles to Trailhead. Turns are marked with Forest Service signs.

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Contact

Bitterroot National Forest, Stevensville Ranger District, 88 Main Street, Stevensville, MT 59870; (406)777-5461

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Site Information

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