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

Trails and Maps

   

Chief Joseph Pass Ski Trails

Tracks in the Snow

High-elevation lodgepole pine forests

Glide along groomed cross-country ski trails in search of tracks or hike on the Continental Divide Trail in summer.

Chief Joseph Pass Ski Trails Site Map

Download Printable Version of Site Information

Field Notes

While skiing on the 17 miles of groomed ski trails here at the 7000-foot Continental Divide, there are plenty of chances to examine wildlife tracks of moose, snowshoe hares, pine marten, and red squirrels. You'll pass by boreal owl nest boxes, a reminder of a nocturnal bird species that lives here throughout the year. In summer, you can hike on the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail or the ski trail loops to see birds of the high-elevation forests - Clark's nutcrackers, gray jays, Steller's jays, mountain chickadees and red crossbills.

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Habitat Link

Winter is a slower time for wildlife viewing in the snowy forests, but a good time to appreciate wildlife adaptations to life in the cold - from the broad, furry feet of snowshoe hares that allow them to stay on top of the snow to the impressive caching of food by red squirrels and Clark's nutcrackers.

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Cultural Link

The pass is named for Chief Joseph, the most famous of the Nez Perce chiefs during the tragic wars and flight of 1877. Chief Joseph spoke the often quoted words, "I will fight no more forever." The Nez Perce National Historic Trail passes four miles to the north.

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Viewing Tip

To spot birds here takes listening well and looking high in the trees. Bring a track book in winter to help identify both animal and bird tracks in the snow.

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Helpful Hint

There are eight loop trails groomed by the Bitterroot Cross Country Ski Club. Maps are available at the trailhead. In winter, stop in at a warming hut less than a mile in from the trailhead.

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Getting There

From Lost Trail Pass on Highway 93, turn east on Highway 43 for about a mile. The trailhead parking is on the north side of the road at Chief Joseph Pass.

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Contact

Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, Wisdom Ranger District, P.O. Box 238, Wisdom, MT 59761; (406)689-3243

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