Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Bear Trap Canyon Hike and Norris Hot Springs

Last Saturday was my first hike of the year with the Helena Hikers.  Texter and Lady K came with me on this one.  We ventured toward Bozeman for this hike at Bear Trap Canyon.  On the way there we were pointing out 'cows - moo' with Lady K and came across these on the hillside.  I'm driving, yelling at Texter to 'quick, take pictures'.  We found some horses, but not ordinary horses.  These are the Bleu Horses by artist Jim Dolan

If you didn't look twice, you would think it was just a herd of horses on the hillside, they look so natural.  But then, you look again because something is just a bit 'off' about the horses and you discover this fantastic art installation in the middle of nowhere.

The day was overcast.  In fact, back in Helena, according the Savvy, there was some heavy rain which came through.  We were anticipating some rain, or possibly snow, but neither dampened our hike.  

The trail starts out in the parking area after a long drive off the main road to it.  We passed several families camping on our way in.  There was still a touch of snow on the top of the hills.  And the wind was whistling through the canyon, making it nippy if you weren't moving or in a sheltered area.

I did manage to spot a new bird for me, the Common Merganser.  At first, I thought it was a Northern Shoveler, but no brown on the side of the white males and the female didn't look right.  Once home, I looked them up and added another bird to my life list.

The hike itself is easy and follows along the Madison River.  Easy enough, despite the distance, Texter packed in Lady K.  Unfortunately, even though she wanted to 'walk', her little two year old legs can't keep up.  Soon, though.  Given the number of fly fisherman (and women) along the banks, once I learn how and get my license, I might be coming back.

One benefit of being the last in line, is you don't have conversation going on around you and you can really hear the river as it goes by.  Between the wind and the river, I just wanted to find a place out of the wind and settle down for a nap.  You could spend hours just watching the river race by, hitting the rocks, and careening on.

The walls of the canyon were steep and according to one review of the trail I read, prone to rattlesnakes during the warmer months.  Fortunately, due to the steepness of the slopes, I have no desire to climb and find out if there are in fact snakes or not.

One thing which really made this hike, and I can't wait for future hikes, is we have a geologist as a member now.  And Texter and I love rocks!  "Rockman" was more than willing to point out interesting features to us.  And he discovered a rock which he (and others help) lug back, that had green mica in it.  He didn't fall for the 'just put it in my car' ploy.

Hopefully, a piece or two of the lovely green rock will 'fall off' and need adopting.

The scenery was spectacular, which I am being to find rather commonplace here in Montana.  Each place we hike is wonderful.  Three hundred pictures later, I could have probably taken 300 more if I wasn't trying to at least attempt to keep up with the group.

One reason for so many pictures are for reference.  I am writing a book in which the character travels through country much like this.  And she does it by horseback.  It is great to have some pictures I can refer to while writing.  Hopefully, I can get the feeling of immenseness and loneliness and harshness of the landscape.

After this 7 plus miles hike, we stopped just up the road at Norris Hot Springs.  Whatever I was expecting, this was definitely not it.  It's not as big as I thought it would be and rustic is definitely a word I would use in conjunction with it.  But laying back in the pool of warm water after the hike was worth the communal dressing room and the nippy dash from the dressing room to the pool.  Even Lady K enjoyed it.

This is definitely one hike I will be doing again.


  1. Wish I could have gone with...maybe next time you go?!?!?!?!? Love the pictures!

  2. Judy, you stories of our hikes are always spectacular. Thanks for being such a loyal hiker -- irregular, but definitely loyal. :-) Find me on the trails, but start at www.meetup.com/Helena-Hikers/


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