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A Guide to Hiking the Bitterroot Mountains

Bitterroot Mountain Hiking: Rugged Peaks

Exploring the rugged peaks of the Bitterroot Mountains is an amazing experience. Throughout history, tectonic activity -- the shifting of the Earth's crust -- has given rise to a veritable art gallery of rocky outcroppings, and glaciation has carved towering peaks from which to view the valleys below. A stunning example is Trapper Peak, which at an impressive 10,157 feet (3,096 meters) is the highest point in the Bitterroot Mountains [source: Montana State Library].

These snow-capped peaks and alpine lakes bring an endless stream of thrillseekers, nature lovers, tourists, and outdoorsmen to enjoy the 1,600 miles (2,575 kilometers) of hiking trails, and recreational opportunities including river rafting, kayaking, swimming, rock climbing, and fishing [source: Forest Camping].

It should come as no surprise that hiking here is some of the best in the world. Day hikers can choose from more than 100 easily accessible trails that offer beautiful scenery without having to travel long distances; more adventurous backpacker can choose trails that are moderate to extremely difficult [source: US Forest Service].

While hiking, be sure to take time for the birds. The Bitterroots are home to bald eagles, great blue herons, wild turkeys, swans, osprey, and an impressive array of songbirds [source: Discover Montana].

Large predatory mammals such as mountain lions and wolves also make their home in these mountains, though hikers rarely see these shy and elusive creatures [source: Wilderness].