Riding - Middle Fork Scenery - Photography - Spring Flowers - Exploring
This is a beautiful early summer traveling trip into the lightly visited upper reaches of the Middle Fork Flathead River.. This trip gives the adventurer an amazing tour through the most remote country we have out this way. We make a loop - starting at our Swift Dam trailhead west of Dupuyer on Birch Creek. Over the course of the next 5 days we travel up the open, stunning South Fork Birch Creek and over the Continental Divde at Gateway Pass. We spend some time at Big River Meadows before traveling to Strawberry Creek and spending some time at it's headwaters. Our route out is over picturesque Badger Pass and down the North Fork Birch Creek before ending at the Swift Dam trailhead.
Day 1: Early morning start as we head into the mountains from Swift Dam trailhead on Birch Creek. Our destination this day is Big River Meadows just over the Continental Divide. The ride up the South Fork Birch Creek is a gradual grade with stunning open country along the way. Riding distance is 15 miles.
Day 2: A well earned rest day where we don't move camp but we can explore Big River Meadows.
Day 3: We move camp riding through Gateway Gorge, which is just spectacular. Then we gradually descend to Strawberry Creek. We travel upstream to a wonderful campsite at the headwaters of Strawberry Creek near the continental divide. An amazing day riding day through the scattered timber along Strawberry Creek and intermittent meadows, forest, and old fireburn. Riding distance is 12 miles.
Day 4: We do not travel this day and instead explore the upper Strawberry area including Winter Ridge and Cap Mountain area. We have several great day rides from this camp, as well as hiking with rewarding vistas of the surrounding Middle Fork country.
Day 5: We move camp and ascend to Badger Pass, at the headwaters of the North Fork Birch Creek. This is an incredible vantage point for the vast country of the Bob Marshall in all directions. We then descend gradually down the North Fork to our destination at the Swift Dam trailhead.
The days are modestly short rides and campsites are in large open meadows, so there are of options on the lay over days. Day rides up to Crystal Ridge, Cap Mountain, Winter Points, and several other scenic and historic points of interest avail themselves to us. This is an amazing trip for hiking as well, as there are some great vistas available directly from most camps.
Of particular interest, due to the absolute remote nature of the Bob Marshall, there is zero light polution, and near perfectly clear skies. The deep evening star gazing is intensely beautful, where you can see brilliantly our evening constellations, the Milky Way galaxy, and numerous shooting stars. This is a unique and rare opportunity to see our night time sky in a way you've not seen it before. The days are long out here, so plan on staying up late as sunset is about 10pm.
As this is a 5 day travel trip, with modest travel days. Our recommended camping gear list is downloadable from the link below. As a summary however, you'll want to keep in mind the following specifics about this trip. There are usually 3 travel days and 2 lay over days (non-traveling). Due to the elevation and the early July schedule, the fishing is not very good on this trip. This is targeted more for the riders, photographers, hikers, and explorers. The things that are important and make your trip most comfortable are layered clothing appropriate for early summer. It can get hot during the day, but the nights will be surprising cool. We can also get a thunderstorm on any given day, so you'll need good rain gear that you can wear riding or hiking. Comforable hiking/riding shoes are a must, and a good assortment of hiking socks varying from light to medium weight. Also, you may consider chaps for riding, or silk under your jeans as we do have some ground to cover on horseback. This will mitigate chafing.