Tag Archives: Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail

Gibraltar Ridge Fire closure order affects Trail Creek, PNT

Gibraltar Ridge Fire Closure Map, Aug 8, 2017

Gibraltar Ridge Fire Closure Map, Aug 8, 2017

A closure order was issued this afternoon in the Kootenai National Forest as a result of the Gibraltar Ridge Fire in the Eureka area.

This closure affects travel from the North Fork over Trail Creek into the Kootenai. The Forest Service is posting signs at the North Fork Road/Trail Creek Road junction, and at the Tuchuck Trailhead.

This also affects the Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT). Notifications are going up at strategic trailheads for the PNT in both the Kootenai and Flathead Forests.

For more information on the Gibraltar Ridge Fire, see the Inciweb page at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5474/

National Trails Day celebration a big success in the North Fork

Thanks to Debo Powers for this report . . .

2016 National Trails Day - Trail Crew

2016 National Trails Day – Trail Crew

Seventeen people (including 9 members of the North Fork Trails Association) showed up last  Saturday morning to work on the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail (PNT). The PNT passes through the North Fork on its way from the Pacific Ocean to Chief Mountain on the east side of Glacier National Park. The event was organized by Stephanie Campbell, the regional manager for the PNT. Several members of the Montana Conservation Corp joined other volunteers to work on the trail. A delicious lunch was served for volunteers at the Polebridge Mercantile following the trail work.

2015 in review

Even with a very early start to the 2015 fire season, the North Fork Trails Association was active from mid-May right through the end of October. The tinder dry forest prevented us from using any tools that might strike a spark, but we found plenty to accomplish with the one-person saws that are becoming part of our standard kit and we did quite a bit of scouting throughout the North Fork.

Here, then, are a few highlights from the 2015 trails season…

We didn’t get much snow this year so, we were able to get boots on the trail by late May. The first expedition of any size was up Trail 4 on May 26. We were up and down this trail several times throughout the year.

150526 - Trail 4 Hikers

Trail 4 Hikers

Another trail that got a lot of attention was the eastern section of the Pacific Northwest Trail where it passes through the North Fork — Trail 3 and a segment of Trail 26.

151011 - Trail 3 Trailhead

Trail 3 Trailhead

150609 - T26 at T3 Intersection - Sign Detail

T26 at T3 Intersection – Sign Detail

150609 - T26 at T3 Intersection

T26 at T3 Intersection

150709 - Trail 3 - Butterfly

Trail 3 – Butterfly

It was a very early fire season. Just as we hit our stride, the region began to get smoky. This view west along the Hay Creek drainage, was taken July 9. It got a lot worse later.

150709 - Trail 3 - Smoke

Trail 3 – Smoke

The old Cleft Rock Trail, Trail 13, got a number of visits early in the season, as we checked out several ways of accessing it. (The eastern end currently stops at private land.) There will be a lot more activity on this project in 2016.

150629 - Randy on Cleft Rock Trail

Randy on Cleft Rock Trail in old Wedge Canyon Fire burn area

Before things got too smoky, we spent a fair amount of time in early July ensuring that Trail 2 was fixed up and ready for a “Wilderness Walks” hike scheduled for mid-July. Read about the hike here and the trail cleanup efforts here and here.

We’ll “draw the curtain of charity” over late summer, which was heavily shrouded in smoke from regional fires and dangerously dry. Besides, yours truly forgot to bring his camera.

We squeezed in several late season activities, including a couple of hikes up Lake Mountain on Trail 375. The first day we went up there, the air was so clear we could see smoke rising from a wildfire near the Idaho border, almost 70 miles to the west.

150928 - Trail 375 - Stony Basin Lake

Trail 375 – Stony Basin Lake

150930 - Trail 375 - Overlooking Chain Lakes

Trail 375 – Overlooking Chain Lakes

In early October we visited the Review Mountain Loop (Trails 113 and 23) a couple of times. The first trip was for our own purposes (setting additional cairns and some blow-down removal), the second was a very pleasant and productive meeting with Sean Cranmer of the U.S. Forest Service. Sean was handling trails issues this year. He took the time to drop by once the fires settled down and the smoke cleared.

51004 - Review Mountain Loop - Fall Foliage

Review Mountain Loop – Fall Foliage

151007 - Review Basin Overlook Hike - People

Review Basin Overlook Hike – People

151007 - Review Basin Overlook Hike - Basin View

Review Basin Overlook Hike – Basin View

But wait, there’s more…

October 27 was the final trip to Hornet Lookout.

151027 - Hornet Lookout

Hornet Lookout

The season-ender was October 28, a last trip up Trail 239, the back door to Coal Ridge. Three of us cut out some blow-downs, excepting one that was a little big for the equipment we had on-hand, and signed the log at the Coal Ridge patrol cabin.

151028 - Trail 239 - Blow-down Removal

Trail 239 – Blow-down Removal

151028 - Trail 239 - Need a Bigger Saw

Trail 239 – Need a Bigger Saw

151028 - Coal Ridge Patrol Cabin

Coal Ridge Patrol Cabin

What about 2016? We’re already rolling. Watch this weblog for further developments.

North Fork Trails Association has boots on the ground!

Debo Powers wrote the following general circulation article about some of our September activities. As you’ll see, the “Three Amigas” (Debo, Margaret Heaphy and Betsy Holycross) have donated a lot of time to the NFTA this month! . . .

The newly formed North Fork Trails Association (NFTA) under the leadership of Bill Walker has been very busy this summer exploring, compiling information and planning for future improvement of North Fork trails.

Bill made a presentation before the RAC committee on September 16 to ask for funding for trail maintenance for the stretch of trail between the Whitefish Divide Trail and the end of Hay Creek Road.  In preparation for his presentation before the RAC committee, Bill organized a group Saturday, September 13, to hike this section from two different directions.  Bill and Randy Kenyon hiked from Hay Creek Road while Margaret Heaphy, Betsy Holycross, and Debo Powers hiked from Red Meadow Road on the Whitefish Divide.  When the two groups met, they exchanged car keys thus avoiding the need for a shuttle.

Two groups meet on trail and exchange car keys

Two groups meet on trail and exchange car keys

On Thursday, September 18, Bill transported NFTA scouts (Margaret, Betsy and Debo) to the Whitefish Divide trailhead on Red Meadow Road.  Their mission was twofold:  (1) hike along the Whitefish Divide Trail and find the junction with the Coal Ridge Trail and (2) reconnoiter the upper portion of the Coal Ridge Trail to find out if the trail was discernible.  If the trail was passable and there was enough time for the long trek, the scouts would continue along Coal Ridge to the old lookout and patrol cabin and hike down to Hay Creek Road where Bill would pick them up.  Although both parts of the mission were accomplished, the Coal Ridge Trail was so difficult to follow that the scouts returned the way they had come.

If you would like to donate money, time, or resources to help improve the hiking trails in the North Fork, please contact Bill through the NFTA “Contact” page.