Ross Creek Cedars Trail
The Ross Creek Cedars Trail is a pleasant hike in the Kootenai National Forest that the whole family can enjoy. This scenic and accessible route explores a beautiful grove of ancient red western cedars lined with interpretive signs that detail the unique ecology and history of the area.
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Route Description for Ross Creek Cedars Trail
Explore the Ross Creek Cedars Scenic Area, and you will be immersed in a forest reminiscent of the redwood groves in the coastal west. The Ross Creek Cedars Trail is a family-friendly adventure and is a crowd favorite amongst Montanans, so expect some company. Those seeking a more tranquil experience are encouraged to head out in the early morning. Due to the traffic in the area, wildlife encounters are unlikely, though it is always wise to carry a can of bear spray just in case. Note that the road to the trailhead is quite steep and winding, so those towing trailers should leave them in the trailer lot at the base of the road.
Easy-going and exceptionally beautiful, the Ross Creek Cedars Trail would make an excellent addition to your hiking itinerary. Full of wonderment, this path explores a swathe of wilderness occupied by thousand-year-old giant red cedars, lush ferns, hanging moss, and a meandering creek fed by the Cabinet Mountains. Boasting a rainforest-like ambiance, this route offers an experience so different from the quintessential alpine ascents—and we aren’t complaining. The next time you find yourself in Idaho’s panhandle or in northern Montana, a trip to this hidden paradise is well worth a detour.
Embark on your adventure through the Ross Creek Cedars Scenic Area from the Ross Creek Nature Trailhead off the picnic area. Setting out from here, you will be guided southwestward, escaping beneath the dense tree canopy. The topographic contrast is quite remarkable as you step away from the lodgepole forests into a damp grove of immense red cedars. Shortly after your departure from the trailhead, you will reach an intersection; turn right here. As you wander, make sure to take the time to read the interpretive signs that line the path that illustrate the ecology of the grove. Don’t forget to marvel at the grandeur of the ancient trees, some as big as 4 m in diameter and over 52 m in height!
Soon you will reach an intersection with the Ross Creek Trail– this route leads further into the woodlands to a charming cascade, keep left here unless you are seeking a longer journey, then we urge you to consider hiking the South Fork Ross Creek Trail. As you explore the lush wilderness, the Ross Creek Nature Trail will curve south, guiding you towards the banks of Ross Creek. Enjoy the sounds of the gurgling water and the sights of the lush ferns framing the creek. From here, the route will divert you northeastward through the corridor of towering ancient giant red cedars to the initial junction. Here, turn right and retrace your steps back to the trailhead, marking the end of your magical adventure.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long is the Ross Creek Cedars Trail?
The Ross Creek Cedars Trail is a 1.4 km hike in the Kootenai National Forest.
Are dogs allowed on the Ross Creek Cedars Trail?
Yes, dogs on leash are permitted on the Ross Creek Cedars Trail.
How old are the Ross Creek Cedars?
Some of the Ross Creek Cedars are over 1,000 years old.
Insider Hints for Ross Creek Cedars Trail
- If you have a trailer, consider leaving it in the parking area at the base of the Forest Road as the route to the trailhead is quite steep and winding
- Head out in the early morning to enjoy some solitude while exploring
- Assuming you have a valid license, bring your fishing pole and try your hand at some cutthroat trout in Ross Creek
- Bring lunch and have a picnic beneath the canopy of the cedars
- In the winter months, this area transforms into a popular snowshoeing and cross-country skiing track
- Don’t forget your camera!
Getting to the Ross Creek Cedars Trail Trailhead
The Ross Creek Cedars Trail is accessed from the Ross Creek Nature Trailhead off National Forest Development Road 398.
Ross Creek Cedars Trail Elevation Graph
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Ross Creek Cedars Trail Reviews
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