Exploring Montana; Ross Creek Cedars near Bull River, Montana
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The Ross Creek Giant Cedars are located in the Kootenai National Forest in Northwest Montana. The Kootenai National Forest established the Ross Creek Cedars in 1960, as a scenic area protecting it for scientific and recreational value. The 100 acre park is home to a grove of 500 year old ancient western red cedars. Some of these trees grow up to 12 feet in diameter and 175 feet in height. The grove is also home to various large specimens of other western trees and the many lush ferns and flowers that blanket the shady forest floor.
The rain forest atmosphere adds a quiet beauty to this area, and the paved nature trail has informational signs explaining the history and ecology of the many plant and animal species native to the grove. The walk is very easy (just .9 mi) over mostly flat terrain, and benches are provided along the way. Near the beginning of the trail, the sparkling Ross Creek meanders through, and often runs hidden beneath the colorful rocky bottom. For the more ambitious hiker, Ross Creek Trail 142 (4.5 miles in length), is an excellent day hike through a closed canopy of cedars and hemlocks. Be sure to wear hikers that can get wet, as there are a couple of 'bridgeless' creeks to cross on this trail.
During your visit you may want to picnic at the cozy stream side picnic area, accessible by a quaint footbridge near the parking area. Several picnic tables and outdoor grills are strategically placed under the trees and along the creek, allowing visitors to choose from a variety of tranquil locations.
There are no camping facilities at the actual Cedar Grove, but Bad Medicine Campground, is located at the bottom of the road to the Scenic Area.
Directions to Ross Creek Cedars in Northwest Montana:
From Main St. (Hwy. 200) in Thompson Falls, head west through town, and continue on through Trout Creek and Noxon. About midway between Noxon and Heron, turn right on Hwy 56. The turnoff to the Cedars is located just before the south end of Bull Lake. Turn left, and follow the road until just before the camping area, where you will make another left. From this point, it is just a little over 4 mi. to the Ross Creek Cedars parking lot. The road to the Cedars is newly paved, but becomes somewhat steep and winding a little ways up. If you'd really like to pack in some sightseeing, you may be able to fit Kootenai Falls in later the same day!
Please enjoy the photo gallery, and click on any picture to enlarge!
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