Bitterroot National Forest

Moonlight Hikes in Bitterroot National Forest

July 9, 2009, 11:41 am

Gather 30 adults, six kids, a toddler in a stroller, a babe in arms and a well mannered (leashed) black lab, add a beautiful lake in a forest with a naturalist and get a wonderful evening hike.

The Bitterroot National Forest educational hike entitled "Walk by the Light of the Moon" was fun, relaxing, and educational.  The hike which was easy enough to be called a walk took place at Lake Como on trail 502 from 7 to 8 p.m. before it began to get dark.

"There is no moon on this part of the walk," said BNF field coordinator Janeen Curtis.  "Look for it later."

Curtis guided this group with lots of question-friendly stops and show-and-tell items. Hikers examined pine needles, cones, flowers and berries.

There was so much to learn:

  • Father Ravalli named Lake Como after Lake Como in Italy.
  • Ponderosa pine is our state tree it is also called the puzzle tree for the design the bark forms.
  • If you press your nose in to a bark crevice and smell - you can decide if the tree is chocolate or vanilla.
  • Douglas fir needles pull off the branch in single needles (where as pine needles are in clumps of 2, 3, or 5).
  • Douglas fir cones look like mouse tales and hind-quarters climbing under each section. 
  • Flowers and plants: Dog Bain, Syringa, "Service" berries, Mistletoe, and Huckleberries.
  • Fires touched the area in 1984, 2000 and 2004.
  • Lake Como was an historic meeting place of the Salish tribe.  They gathered here each spring to re-connect with all tribes and enjoy the land.
  • Lake Como is three times the size of the original lake since the dam was added.