Big Sky, unlike Anaconda, has a name that captures its essence as you can see. This vista above was a big highlight on an otherwise fairly unremarkable first couple miles. I’m a bit surprised that this out and back hike in the Gallatin National Forest was rated one of the top 10 in the world. (Guess I’m becoming a bit of a hiking snob.) In wildflower season, I suspect it blossoms beautifully, bewitching its visitors. November is not her best month. It’s either dry and reedy or muddy and icy, but there are shimmering sights at the basin that do reward those with the tenacity to trudge through the thick slime and slog through the snow in the off-season…(Yes, that would be me.)
In my first video, I mistake the first, unnamed lake for the destination lake.
As for equipping myself with the bear spray, I learned that the “griz” are the most active before hibernation and there have been recent attacks in nearby Ennis and Yellowstone National Park. Not to mention that the sign at the trail head was difficult to ignore.
You may notice that I’m wearing a bell around my neck to alert bears of my presence. (Let’s see a bell, chocolate in my pocket -you got it, I’m a walking, talking bear toy.) Have you heard the rangers joke about how you can tell black bear scat from grizzly scat? The grizzly scat has bells in it. I’ve stopped wearing the bell as they say the bears might find the ringing intriguing (or perhaps annoying). They say it’s better just to talk loudly and make a lot of noise in areas with limited visibility. You don’t want to surprise a griz. Supposedly, they’ll hear you coming and go the other way.
The panoramic views were breathtaking. And slogging through mud, ice, and snow mean I’m getting a more intense workout. What’s not to like, right?
Topped off a fantastic day with a feast at the Gallatin River House Grill, what a great spot on the river with outdoor seating, a band stage and volley ball court. Their Famous Flank Steak Sandwich is as outstanding as is their riverfront view. One day, I will return to see the trail in its wildflower splendor and for post hike festivities and another feast at the River House.
Wanted to make it to the lake and back. The trail is one of the best in the area with 11 waterfalls on the way. It was heavily wooded so the views of the waterfalls and the dramatic canyons and the cliffs weren’t always visible without a slight ramble on spur to the right.
Hiking distance: 11 miles round trip
Elevation gain: 1,900 feet
Unfortunately, the trail was heavily iced and snow-covered so I had to turn back at Chasm Falls about a mile and a half short of the lake. In the video below, I misnamed the hike Hyacinth – it is Hyalite. Must have been the brain freeze.
Here’s a close up of the icicles by the falls.
By the way, do you think my jacket is bright enough? I’m hoping the hunters will too. Heard a couple shotgun shots on the way down. Ended the hike via the accessible and lovely 1.5 mile Grotto Falls trail.
Ah, closing a day of hiking with a great meal at Ted’s Montana Grill and a big sky sunset, does it get better than this?