Riding, Scenery, Middle Fork Flathead River country
This is a super late summer traveling trip. This trip covers almost 70 miles of spectacular wilderness and gives the adventurer a nice variety of country to explore.
The trip begins on the east slope of the Rockies, at the Midddle Fork of the Teton River trailhead. We saddle up from there and ride about 16 miles west. The morning is spent ascending to Route Creek Pass, which is an open and beautiful pass atop the ridge between the Teton and Sun Rivers. While not terribly steep, it does offer great vistas of the Teton and Sun River valleys. Continuing one we gradually drop down to the Route Creek valley and follow it to the North Fork Sun River valley. By late afternoon we're traveling up the North Fork to our first stop at Wrong Creek. We'll spend one evening here, and you'll be ready for rest and great supper. The next morning, we get up early, pack up camp, and move on up to the head of the Sun River, and cross Sun River pass on the Continental Divide. This is a low pass at the head of the North Fork, and the bulk of this day is spent riding through timber and scattered meadows. As we ride north along Bowl Creek, the country changes to a mix of new burn, old burn, and open timber. Bowl Creek joins Strawberry Creek along the way, and all the sudden the river we follow is growing rapidly and the valley gets much larger. We'll spend this evening along the Middle Fork of the Flathead river just north of Winter Creek. This is a beautiful campsite on a bend in the river, and after another 16 mile day it's good to get to camp.
We typically do not travel the next day, so we spend recreating and exploring here at Winter Creek. The fishermen will find good fishing action on the Middle Fork, and the explorers have a lot of options along the river or climbing the valley to superb vistas. After a great day of exploring, fishing, or just hanging out in this great location, we get ready for our next move the following morning. On this travel day, we pack up and head back to Strawberry Creek, then up that drainag to Gateway Creek for about a 14 mile day. This area is a mix of new and older burn, and is largely open country with scattered timber. As we climb up the Gateway Creek drainage, we approach a spectacular natural landmark, Gateway Gorge. We ride at the base of a very narrow gorge hemmed in by 1,000 foot cliffs rising on both sides of us. Gateway Creek tumbles along beside us. As soon as we pass through Gateway Gorge, we are at our next campsite. A great spot to spend the next two nights.
The next day we typically do not travel as we explore the area around Gateway Gorge. This is not a good fishing campsite, but it's highly conducive to day rides and hikes right from camp with spectacular view all around. The next morning we pack up for our final ride out back over the Continental Divide, via Gateway Pass, and down the South Fork of Birch Creek to our trailhead destination below Swift Dam on Birch Creek. This is an 18 mile day. The ride out is arguably saving the best for last, as we ride through the enormous Big River Meadows on approach to Gateway Pass, then out along the open South Fork country as it tumbles and grows on it's path to Swift Dam. Swift Dam is near the end of our day, and hems in Birch Creek behind an impressive rock ride that we ride above.
This is a great trip for the explorer wanting to see some varied country, ride and explore, and possibly do a little fishing along the way.
The Big River, while traveling more than our other trips, has a number of options on the lay over days. Day rides up to Winter Ridge, Big River Meadows, and several other scenic and historic points of interest avail themselves to us. Also, the fishing on the Middle Fork of the Flathead is excellent this time of year and should not be passed up by the fishermen. This is an amazing trip for hiking as well, as there are some great vistas available directly from most camps.
Of particular interest, due to the absolute remote nature of the Bob Marshall, there is zero light polution, and near perfectly clear skies. The deep evening star gazing is intensely beautful, where you can see brilliantly our evening constellations, the Milky Way galaxy, and numerous shooting stars. This is a unique and rare opportunity to see our night time sky in a way you've not seen it before. The days are long out here, so plan on staying up late as sunset is about 10pm.
As this is a 7 day travel trip, you'll want to bring along sufficient gear for an extended time in the mountains. Our recommended camping gear list is downloadable from the link below. As a summary however, you'll want to keep in mind the following specifics about this trip. There are usually 5 travel days and 2 lay over days (non-traveling). There is at most 2 days of fishing, and we can provide specific days for your fishing license. The things that are important and make your trip most comfortable are layered clothing appropriate for late summer. It can get hot during the day, but the nights will be surprising cool. We can also get a thunderstorm on any given day, so you'll need good rain gear that you can wear riding or hiking. Comforable hiking/riding shoes are a must, and a good assortment of hiking socks varying from light to medium weight. Also, you may consider chaps for riding, or silk under your jeans as we do have some ground to cover on horseback. This will mitigate chafing.