Tag Archives: Trail 2

Moran Creek Trail #2 is cleared

Wildflowers along Moran Creek Trail #2, July 18, 2020 - Madelon Martin

Wildflowers along Moran Creek Trail #2, July 18, 2020 – Madelon Martin

We got Moran Creek Trail #2 opened up yesterday, July 2. It’s a good thing we had a decent-size crew. Aside from the usual brushing out, we had to remove 33 blow-downs, some of them pretty substantial — not as bad as last year’s 54, but still plenty of work.

We were the first up the trail this season, but had at least 10 people come through while we were working.

Trail 2 open for the year

Trail 2 Maintenance, July 7, 2016

Trail 2 Maintenance, July 7, 2016

The North Fork Trails Association is pleased to announce that Trail 2 is now open. Randy Kenyon, Alan Peura and Bill Walker removed all the downfall and brushed the trail out a bit on July 7.

Trail 2 is a popular trail running from Moran Basin Road to Coal Ridge, the location of a number of old lookouts, including the 1928 “Coal Ridge Patrol Cabin.”

We were in a hurry to clear the trail because there is an upcoming hike along Trail 2 to Coal Ridge in conjunction with the Montana Wilderness Association’s Wilderness Walks program on July 16. See the NFTA schedule at https://nftrails.org/calendar/#activities for details, including a registration link.

Coal Ridge Lookout Hike

Last Saturday, July 18, 2015 was the Coal Ridge Lookout Hike. We set this up as part of the Montana Wilderness Association’s “Wilderness Walks” program, with North Fork Trails providing the hike leaders. The route follows Flathead National Forest Trail 2 from the trailhead on Moran Basin Road until it intersects Trail 14 on top of Coal Ridge. The remains of the old Coal Ridge lookout are a short distance east along the ridge-top. The round trip distance is about 6.8 miles (11 km).

Trouble is, it was a damp, cool, foggy morning and no one but Randy and I showed up — wimps. So, we did the hike anyway. About three hours later, we were on the ridge-top, enjoying the sunshine and a nice view. Our missing hikers were still down there in the dank fog.

View from Coal Ridge - fog in the valleys

View from Coal Ridge – fog in the valleys

We had a pleasant time at the site of the old fire lookout. We had a leisurely lunch, tried to identify some of the peaks in Glacier Park and surveyed the surrounding territory with a view toward future visits.

Coal Ridge - packing up after lunch

Coal Ridge – packing up after lunch

Coal Ridge - remains of old lookout

Coal Ridge – remains of old lookout

On the way up, we took note of a stretch of ripe huckleberries. On the way back, we stopped for some berry picking. Randy anticipated adding his to pancakes. Mine ended up on ice cream.

Trail 2 - huckleberries

Trail 2 – huckleberries

Altogether, a very pleasant day. Any expedition that ends with huckleberries is a success.

Trail 2 is clear

As mentioned in a previous post, we got Trail 2 mostly cut out on July 2. Yesterday (July 6, 2015) a group of us went in with a chain saw and finished up a few of the balkier items, especially a big old spruce blocking travel at the 2.5 mile (4 km) point.

Barring additional blow-downs, the trail is clear.

Bill is happy now

Bill is happy now

Randy, Sue and Greg look pleased, too

Randy, Sue and Greg look pleased, too

Trail 2 mostly cleared

Randy Kenyon and Bill Walker spent a few hours yesterday (July 2, 2015) almost clearing the first 2.5 miles of Trail 2.They’re leading a hike up this trail in just over two weeks, so a little maintenance was in order.

Trail 2, the Moran Creek Trail, runs about 3 miles (4.8 km) from a trailhead on Moran Basin Road (road 5241) to the top of Coal Ridge. It is the most popular route for visiting the old lookout sites along the spine of Coal Ridge.

There was a modest number of blow-downs across the trail, some minor and some requiring a bit of work.

That wasn't too bad

That wasn’t too bad

A few required a lot of work, especially a big, old spruce that fell down across the trail at a long, shallow angle

This is going to take a while!

This is going to take a while!



Randy feeling victorious

Randy feeling victorious

Downed spruce were by far the biggest nuisance.

Another fine mess we've gotten ourselves into

Another fine mess we’ve gotten ourselves into

Not quite out of the way yet

Not quite out of the way yet

Unfortunately, we had to leave one monster as a (cough) step-over until we can get back up there with a chain saw. We’ll clear up this little detail in a few days.

This one needs a chain saw

This one needs a chain saw

Trail 4 complete

We did it. After a lot of effort spanning two full hiking seasons, Trail 4 has been located and walked from end to end. In the process, we learned a little history. Those of you who have been involved in this chronic project at one time or another will realize just how significant this is.

Here’s how it happened: A few days ago, we put together a very short notice hike in the Moran Basin area with the vague notion of maybe exploring some long-neglected tread. There were three of us (myself — Bill Walker, Debo Powers and Greg Evans). Since the other two had never been on Trail 2, we chose to go in on that route. See the Moran Basin Trails article for the layout.

After having lunch and enjoying the views from the remains of the old Coal Ridge lookout, we decided to keep pushing southest along Coal Ridge to see if we could locate the junction with Trail 4.

View East from Coal Ridge

View Northeast from Coal Ridge

This is where things got interesting. We found the Trail 4 turnoff… and something else, as well. Right at the point where Trail 4 dropped down off the ridge, was the remains of another old lookout, predating the more familiar ruins further west. [Update: I am informed that this was more of an observation platform than a lookout. Still, it was a pretty neat find.]

Lookout Remains at T4 Junction

Lookout Remains at T4 Junction

Old Ladder at Lookout Remains at T4 Junction

Old Ladder at Lookout Remains at T4 Junction

From there, knowing we were only about 1.25 miles (2 km) from known territory, we decided to try hiking out on Trail 4.

Ready to Go Northeast on Trail 4

Ready to Go Northeast on Trail 4

As we hoped, the tread was still visible. Other than a few blow-downs, we had little trouble following the old trail.

The final highlight of the day was reaching the furthest limit of the previously explored section of Trail 4. As you can see, everyone was quite pleased with themselves.

Back in Known Territory - 01

Back in Known Territory – 01

Back in Known Territory - 02

Back in Known Territory – 02

We wrapped up the expedition without incident, walking out to where John Frederick was waiting to provide shuttle service (we radioed ahead once we made the Trail 4 decision).

A good day.

Coal Ridge cabin gets more renovation work

It seems the Coal Ridge “patrol cabin” (on Trail 14, just west of the Trail 2 intersection) was actually the original lookout up there. Anyways, it got new siding last week to go with the roof that was installed a couple of years ago . . .

An historic lookout up the North Fork on Coal Ridge received some badly needed care last week as Forest Service crews installed new siding on the weather-beaten building.

The Coal Ridge Lookout, which has sat atop the Whitefish Range since 1928, doesn’t resemble a lookout — the current map actually calls it a cabin. It has small windows, and the Osborne Fire Finder used to pinpoint fire starts was mounted on a metal pole outside of the building.

But it was a definitely a fire lookout, Flathead National Forest lookout Leif Haugen said.

Read more . . .

For more information on this project, go to http://www.nwmt-ffla.org/#!2014-projects/c1nlq and scroll down to the “Moran Patrol Cabin” section.

Moran Basin trails wrap-up: Trails 2, 4 and 14

August saw a lot of activity on the trails surrounding the Moran Creek Basin. See below for the GPS tracks. (The Trail 4 trace is roughly .25 miles short because I didn’t start recording immediately on the return trip.)

Moran Basin Trails

Moran Basin Trails

On August 11, we (Bill Walker, Jerry Costello and Bob Nelson) worked through the last of the downed wood and underbrush on Trail 4, encountering almost unrestricted ridge-top travel for the next half-mile or so. At that point — about 1.25 miles from the Trail 14 junction — we decided to carry our equipment out rather than continue.

We found a nice view of Cyclone Peak and Lake on the way back . . .

Cyclone Peak and Lake

Cyclone Peak and Lake

A couple of weeks later, Jerry and I went round the north and west sides of the basin on trails 2 and 14. The tread started to fade a little ways past the old Coal Ridge lookout tower. We took a photo at our turnaround point and called it a day . . .

Trail 14 Limit of Travel

Trail 14 Limit of Travel

The next step is to walk and identify those last little bits of trails 4 and 14, possibly with two groups, one going in from each end.

Moran Basin and Trail 2

On July 10, we took another look at Moran Basin Road (Road 5241). The slides had been cut out a few days earlier (reportedly, not by the Forest Service but by a third party), so we were able to reach the Trail 2 trailhead. Time was limited, so I decided to go as far up the trail as I could get by mid-afternoon.

Trail 2 is a popular local hike, climbing south along the western edge of the Moran Creek Basin until it reaches the crest of Coal Ridge near the old lookout and patrol cabin. Although I didn’t reach the ridge top, I got several photos along the way.

Here’s the trail near the beginning. As you can see, it’s in great shape.

Trail 2 - Near Start

Trail 2 – Near Start

The remains of the lookout are still standing.

Coal Ridge Lookout From a Distance

Coal Ridge Lookout From a Distance

There were quite a few water crossings, including this nice waterfall. John’s dog, Blue, is certainly enjoying it.

Trail 2 Waterfall

Trail 2 Waterfall

At that altitude, the wildflowers were still in full display.

Trail 2 - Wildflowers

Trail 2 – Wildflowers

I had to turn around at this point — near Coal Ridge, but not yet above the trees.

Trail 2 - Nearing Coal Ridge

Trail 2 – Nearing Coal Ridge