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Munson Creek

This week's trail is a wonderful shoulder season hike. It's accessible right from Highway 200 near Plains and Thompson Falls, so you don't have to worry about driving long muddy roads early in the year. If there's still snow, it's a nice ski or snowshoe. If it's thawing out, you can look for loads of early season wildflowers in the understory. Or, add this to your summer list for a cool dip in the shady pools along Munson Creek.

A hike along Munson Creek offers incredible diversity packed into a relatively short distance. You'll pass through open stands of Doug fir and ponderosa, larch, aspen and deep cedar groves, each with its own variety of wildflowers and flowering shrubs. On a spring hike, you might see more than two dozen wildflowers in bloom. In the summer, the shady cedar groves offer a respite from the hot sunny slopes. In the fall, you'll be treated to the reds of Oregon grape and huckleberry, and the yellows of larch and aspen. And, with a trailhead right off of the highway, it shouldn't be too hard to access in the winter on skis or snowshoes.

For more information, visit the Montana Wilderness Association's online hiking guide at http://hike.wildmontana.org/.

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