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

Trails and Maps

   

Coyote Coulee

Apple Orchards Turning Wild

More aspen here than on most of the Bitterroot National Forest

Aspen groves and the old apple trees together attract birds and other animals.

Coyote Coulee Site Map

Download Printable Version of Site Information

Field Notes

Swallowtail butterflies flit among bee balm flowers. A western widow dragonfly hovers over a small stream. The spiraling call of a Swainson's thrush filters through the Douglas firs. A herd of elk files up a wooded draw.

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Habitat Link

Old apple trees tell a story of earlier homesteading here, and add a source of fruit for wildlife, including black bears. A forest restoration project seeks to open up the apple orchard, rejuvenate aspen stands for wildlife, and reduce wildfire hazards for nearby homeowners.

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Cultural Link

Homesteaders trooped into the Bitterroot Valley after 1870, when farmland more than doubled to 42,000 acres. By the late 1880s, the Northern Pacific Railroad passed through Missoula with a spur up the Bitterroot. An old railroad used to haul logs at the turn of the nineteenth century and the railroad bed is still visible at this site. Apple orchards boomed in the late 1800s with the arrival of irrigation, but ultimately the Bitterroot proved too far from markets to be viable.

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Viewing Tip

Low-elevation forests offer excellent early birdwatching by late May. Trails are gentle.

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Helpful Hint

Horseback riding is popular on the trails, which are maintained in part by the Bitterroot Backcountry Horsemen. In winter, cross-country skiing offers a chance to view tracks of elk, deer and snowshoe hares in snow.

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Getting There

Eight miles south of Hamilton on Highway 93, turn west on Lost Horse Road. Drive 2.5 miles to Forest Road 496, to Coyote Coulee Trailhead. Park and hike part or all of the first loop (4.4 miles). Walk a half-mile up Lost Horse road to see red-naped sapsuckers, MacGillivray's warblers and warbling vireos in the aspen grove.

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Contact

Bitterroot National Forest, Darby Ranger District, 712 N. Main, Darby, MT, 59829; (406) 821-3913

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