Bear Creek Overlook, Bitterroot Valley, Montana

Bear Creek Overlook supplies magical vantage points of the Bear Creek drainage and Bitterroot Range. No hike in the Bitterroot Valley provides so much spectacular scenery for so modest an effort.

Bear Creek Overlook

Bear Creek Overlook is a superb out-and-back day hike; its total distance of 2.8 miles round trip makes it one of the simplest, most easily accessible junkets in the Bitterroots. The hike is of mild difficulty, gaining 1,160 feet spread out over nearly 1.5 miles. It takes no more than one hour to reach Bear Creek Overlook: about two dozen switchbacks through Douglas-fir and lodgepole pine and clearcut forest await hikers.

The trail is well-defined and easy to follow, with just a few down trees along the path to keep hikers vigilant. Bear Creek Overlook is the perfect introductory hike or novice hike. Its scenery is truly unforgettable, and may inspire the craving for some longer, more strenuous excursions. With more than 2,000 miles of USFS trails zigzagging the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, including hundreds of miles of backcountry routes, Bear Creek Overlook may be a forerunner to much hearty scrambling and clambering.

The Bear Creek Overlook offers awesome views of the snowfields, granite peaks, grey ridges, windswept silhouettes, deep, bottomless canyons of the Bear Creek drainage. Visually arresting views include glimpses of Gash Point (8,866 feet), Sky Pilot Peak (8,792 feet), and myriad pyramid-shaped towers and outlines of the North Fork.

While this casual saunter requires only a modest effort, like all Bitterroot forays, hikers should never treat its terrain nonchalantly. Autumn weather is notoriously mercurial, as snow in September or October is a very good possibility. Even summer nights can be capricious, quickly changing from sunny and mild to cold and chilly. From the end of July to early September are generally the most favorable weeks to venture into the Bitterroots, but checking the weather forecast is always encouraged.

Bear Creek Overlook, Bitterroot

From U.S. Highway 93 Tucker Crossing exit, 3 miles south of Victor, follow Bear Creek Road west for 2.3 miles. Turn right at the marked intersection and continue north along Red Crow Road for an additional 2 miles. Turn west on Pleasant View Drive, approaching the Bitterroot foothills. At 3.9 miles look for a marked junction Forest Road 1325, which twists and bends for another 3.6 miles before reaching the trailhead. The inception of the trail is at the gated terminus of FR 1325. Room for parking is a bit tight, but trail usage is generally light.