Four hours from Spokane, Montana’s Blodgett Canyon offers the magic and adventure of the Cascades. All without the crowds.
On Labor Day a friend and I canceled our Cascade plans, instead heading east to Blodgett Canyon – just one of several canyons that cuts into the eastern flanks of the Bitterroot Range.
Although a 4-hour drive, it goes by quickly, with 95% of the driving being on I-90 and highway roads.
Being Labor Day, we expected some crowding. Instead, we found ourselves nearly alone in the canyon. We ran into only one other group after leaving the trailhead.
The canyon was carved by retreating glaciers, and that dramatic genesis is clear in the towering walls that define Blodgett’s boundaries. It’s a popular place for rock climbers with thousand-foot routes just a mile from the car.
For hikers, the canyon offers a well-maintained, gently graded trail. The preeminent hike is to Blodgett Lake near the western end of the canyon. At 13 miles one way, it’s a substantial undertaking. But the well-maintained trail is manageable, gaining just over 3,000 feet, though by all accounts the trail deteriorates closer to the lake.
We hiked several miles down the trail and then explored the northern side of the canyon. There are numerous possible campsites along the trail, making the entire canyon a good place to build your own adventure.
Be aware: There are bears, moose and other wildlife in the canyon. Bring bear spray and store your food appropriately.
With temperatures in the 80s, we opted to swim in the stream that runs from Blodgett Lake. The cool water was refreshing after a day of hiking.
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