Hiking in a Wildflower Kaleidoscope
As I hike into an open meadow the flitter of colors catch my eyes. Wildflowers, stunning and magical. Immediately my inner Von Trapp family singer emerges and I have an overwhelming desire to belt out an Americana classic that will echo across the slopes and bring the hills alive with the sound of music.
While I was in college at MSU Bozeman, I spent my summers in Big Sky bagging peaks and logging miles throughout the Lee Metcalf Wilderness that cradles the west end of Big Sky Resort's Lone Peak. I was studying hard on my other degree: becoming a "self-proclaimed naturalist". This prestigious acclaim does not come with a transcript or gown, but the accomplishment is rewarded by friends trusting my knowledge of local flora and fauna. I am regularly quizzed by them with a finger point and the question, "what is this?"
A visit to Big Sky country in July will be filled with colorful dancing meadows and alpine vistas. I will use my "degree" and recommend a few good wildflower hikes near Big Sky Resort.
Windy Pass: This trail rolls up with some short steep inclines through forest and meadows for 2.5 miles to the Windy Pass Cabin. Continue past the cabin another .5 miles to the Gallatin Crest Trail.
From Big Sky, Montana, proceed northbound for 6 miles on Highway 191 until you reach the Portal Creek Road 984 (RIGHT TURN). Follow this rough gravel road (note: may not be suitable for low clearance vehicles) up approximately 6 miles to the end at the Windy Pass and Golden Trout Lakes Trailheads. Windy Pass Trail 82 is left of the bulletin board. The cabin is 2.5 miles up (1300 foot elevation gain) the Windy Pass Trail 82.
Cinnamon Mountain: The climb to Cinnamon Mountain lookout lopes upward through forest and open meadows for 4 miles one way. The views of the Taylor Hilgard and Spanish Peaks of the Madison Range are stunning on a clear day. The lookout at the top is no longer manned, but the structure still remains.
From Big Sky, Montana, head southbound for about 11 miles U.S. Highway 191 south to Cinnamon Creek Road. The road is 100 yards south of The Cinnamon Lodge (great spot for after hike refreshments) on highway 191. Turn right on the dirt road and follow for 0.3 mile to the Cinnamon Station and the parking area.
You can spot these pretty little things in and around Big Sky Resort.
Below in order Lupine, Sticky Geranium, Spring Beauties & Glacier Lily.