On our way to the trailhead for a hike along Grouse Ridge, we stopped by the USDA Forest Service Public Service Center at Glacier for a last minute snow condition update. A less-frequented area, they had no information about the road we needed to follow, nor any information about the condition of the trail. They did have reports that the snow was off of quite a few other trails that were at about the same elevation, and some even slightly higher, than our destination – so off we set.
Just before the parking lot for the Heliotrope Ridge Trail, we turned off onto another gravel road and started climbing higher and higher in elevation. The wildflowers were absolutely beautiful along both sides of the road, but when driving an old Volvo wagon up a winding, one-lane gravel road that hugs the edge of a steep drop-off as it climbs a ridge, I really needed to keep my eyes on the lookout for deep potholes – rather than beautiful wildflowers.
Most likely an old climbers route, our map indicated a short trail at the end of an abandoned (probably over-grown) road, but we did not know how long that trail would be – or in what condition we might find it. Since the wildflowers were so beautiful as we drove, rather than miss them, we parked along the side of the road and extended the length of our hike by walking along the road. I thought these tiger lilies exceptional!
The road had a very gently elevation gain to it as we walked along, and made a great warm-up for us before we reached the actual trail later on.
From the gravel road, we picked up the trail. It was a retired logging road. This trail was fairly easy to follow and appeared to have received a little maintenance
The trail led us into a forest so thick there was very little underbrush as it continued to gain elevation.
To describe portions of the trail as primitive is a bit generous as it was quite obvious that the trail receives little use and has not received regular trail maintenance. At times difficult to determine exactly where the trail even was, several times Kent marked the route we were following to help us find our way back.
And we continued our climb.
s often is the case this time of year in the high country, we hit snow.
Near the top of the ridge we sat on the edge of a snow field for our picnic. Even with a cloudy sky, I found the view most enjoyable.
To reach the trailhead for Grouse Ridge, follow the driving directions to the Heliotrope Ridge trailhead found here – http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/heliotrope-ridge – but just before the parking area for the Heliotropt trail, take the gravel road that is on the right and continue following that road until it ends.