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

Trails and Maps

   

Blodgett Canyon

Dynamic Natural Forces

Arguably the most scenic of the glacially carved canyons in the Bitterroot Mountains

Blodgett has the added wildlife value of a recent fire, and a portion is designated an Important Bird Area.

Blodgett Canyon Site Map

Download Printable Version of Site Information

Field Notes

Walk into the Bitterroot's version of Yosemite.Vertical cliffs loom high above you here in the most spectacular of the Bitterroot canyons. Peregrines and white-throated swifts wing across the silver-gray cliffs. The Blodgett fire of 2000 recently shaped the forest here, starting at the trailhead. The post-fire shrubs are lively with lazuli buntings, juncos, MacGillivray's warblers and Townsend's solitaires. The lush canyon is home to the northern alligator lizard, as well as two frog species - the Rocky Mountain tailed frog and the Columbia spotted frog.

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Habitat Link

Dynamic natural forces are a hallmark of the Bitterroot Birding and Nature Trail. Here, you can easily witness two such forces - glaciers and fire. The glacially-carved canyons are perfect for peregrines, swifts and other species like mountain goats. Fires burn periodically and differently - sometimes only sweeping through the understory of ponderosa pine and other times burning hot through whole tree stands of lodgepole pine and fir. Wildlife are adapted to both kinds of fires. See if you can notice where fires burned hot or cooler. Blodgett is an Important Bird Area because of the dramatic and positive fire effects.

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Viewing Tip

Walk through the fire area for the first mile of the trail. Watch here for post-fire birds and for views of the high cliffs through the blackened tree snags. Continue on to the unburned area and past talus slopes that are home to pika (listen for high-pitched squeaks). Western tanagers call from treetops. Keep a lookout for other forest species like Townsend's and yellow-rumped warblers.Take a spotting scope for best chances of viewing peregrines.

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Helpful Hint

Blodgett trailhead includes a picnic area by the creek and a campground. This area is close to Hamilton and can be crowded on summer weekends. For a walk-in picnic, hike 1-1/2 miles up the trail where the creek levels off into a rock pool. At mile 4, a pack bridge crosses north over the creek. It's 8 miles from there to Blodgett Lake in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. To learn more about fire ecology, you can drive up Canyon Creek Road (FS #735) to Blodgett Canyon Overlook Trail - a 1-1/2 mile nature trail.

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Getting There

River Park - Turn west at the light on Main Street off Highway 93 in downtown Hamilton. Drive 8 blocks and turn left (south) on 9th street. The park is to your right (west).
Hieronymus Park - Heading south into Hamilton on Highway 93, turn right (west) into the Bitterroot River Inn (139 Bitterroot Plaza Drive). Park at the south end of the lot, or in the field at the entrance to Hieronymus Park.

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Contact

City of Hamilton, 223 S. Second St., Hamilton, MT 59840 (406) 363-1519

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