Missoulian Saturday, May 20, 2000
Missoula Regional Avalanche Advisory is available by calling 1-800-281-1030 or 549-4488. This information is on the Internet at www.fs.fed.us/r1/lolo/rec-contrib/advisory.htm. Check with local ranger districts for seasonal gate and road closures. Check out the Lolo National Forest home page at www.fs.fed.us/rl/lolo.
Here's a look at conditions in the area's national forests as compiled by the Forest Service:
LOLO NATIONAL FOREST
Missoula Ranger District, (406) 329-3814: Blue Mountain is peaking for wild flowers, especially Arnica. Rattlesnake trails are in good condition for hiking. At the main Rattlesnake trailhead, dogs are allowed on leash to milepost 1.7. Dogs are prohibited year-round in Sawmill Gulch. Spring Gulch is closed to dogs, but Woods Gulch is open to dogs year-round. Construction on Blue Mountain Road will resume June 1.
Seeley Lake Ranger District, (406) 677-2233: The waterfowl are back. The Clearwater Canoe Trail is open. The boat ramps at Lake Alva and Lake Inez and the road to Rainy Lake are open. Big Larch Campground and boat launch is temporarily closed due to logging of numerous hazard trees. Seeley Lake Campground and boat launch is open with no fees, no trash removal or water. Forest roads are closed due to soft roadbeds or an abundance of snow.
Ninemile Ranger District, (406) 626-5201: The lower six miles of the North Fork of Fish Creek Trail No. 103 are free of snow. Cass Creek Trail No. 317 has been cleared six miles to Iris Creek. Both trails to Squaw Peak remain buried in snow. Wildflowers are blooming along all low-elevation trails. Low- to mid-elevation roads generally are open. High-elevation roads remain snowcovered.
Superior Ranger District, 822-4233: Trout Creek Road No. 250 is open to Cement Creek or just 1 1/2 miles below Heart Lake Trail. Route of the Hiawatha is scheduled to open Memorial Day weekend. River Trail No. 223 is open for use. Reservations are being accepted for the Thompson Peak Lookout. Call for further information.
Plains/Thompson Falls, 826-3821: The West Fork Thompson River Road No. 603 will be closed to motorized vehicle traffic over 50 inches in width until further notice. The Graves Vermillion Road (FDR No. 367) is open to vehicle use. The Cascade Campground is open through Sept. 15. The Gold Rush, Copper King and Clark Memorial campgrounds are closed for the season. The Bend Ranger Station is available for rent this summer. Priscilla Peak Lookout will not be available for rent this season. Call for information and reservations.
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT,
Missoula Field Office: For the first time in recent memory Garnet Ghost Town is snow-free this early in May. Visitors can access Garnet from either Montana Highway 200 or Interstate 90 in two-wheel-drive vehicles. The Visitor Center is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The fee is $2 per adult. When planning a trip to Garnet, remember that the weather can change quickly, so be prepared for any weather conditions, including snow.
CLEARWATER NATIONAL FOREST
Lolo Pass Visitor Center, Lochsa Ranger District, Powell Office, (208) 942-3113: The Lolo Pass Visitor Center is closed and will remain closed throughout the summer seasons 2000-2001 for reconstruction. Saddle Camp Road is open for six miles. The gates on many roads are open, but there is still lot of snow in the higher elevations; call ahead for the latest conditions. The White Sand and Colgate Bench campgrounds are open, but no services are available. The Wendover Campground gate has been opened to accommodate boaters for a put-in spot. No camping is allowed at this time. All campgrounds along U.S. Highway 12 are scheduled to open May 26.
BITTERROOT NATIONAL FOREST
Hamilton, 363-3131: Recreation Web site is www.fs.fed.us/r1/bitterroot. The Charles Waters Campground and day-use area is closed through June during reconstruction. Rombo Campground remains closed until Memorial Day weekend. All other campgrounds including Lake Como are now open. Fees are in effect at Lake Como and Spring Gulch campgrounds. A new 8 Þ-mile trail has been developed near Hayes Creek, 14 miles southwest of Hamilton, for hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking. Avoid soft muddy roads to minimize rutting and erosion.
SMOKEJUMPER VISITOR CENTER
Aerial Fire Depot, 329-4934: The Smokejumper Visitor Center is closed. Call and leave a message to schedule group tours. Preferred tour days are Mondays and Thursdays.