Dogs: Not Permitted on This Trail
GPS Coordinates: N 45 35 27.60 N, W 111 0349.46
Trail Length: 1.7 Miles Round Trip (Loop 1); 1.9 Miles (Loop 2)
Location: Northern Foothills of the Gallatin Mountain Range South of Bozeman
Elevation: 5367 Feet at Trail Head
Elevation Gain: 600 Feet (Loop 1); 750 Feet (Loop 2)
Bloom Season: April through September
Peak Bloom: May through mid-August
Maps: U.S.G.S. Wheeler Mountain, Kirk Hill Nature Trail Map
An abundance of flowers are now present, primarily due to the "early spring" and "warm temperatures." Flowers we normally expect in early June are beginning to bloom. We logged: Glacier Lillies, Pasqueflowers, Spring Beauty, Buttercup, Forget-me-not, Bluebells, Cous Biscuitroot, Oregon Grape, Rock Clematis, Ballhead Waterleaf, Trillium, Calypso Orchid, Arrowleaf Balsamroot, Larspur, Alpine Star, False Solomon Seal, Nuttal's violet (yellow), Sugar Bowls, Prairiesmoke, and Canada Violets.
The trail today was a "blue day." The hillsides were covered with Rock Clematis, Ballhead Waterleaf, Sugar Bowls, and Bluebells. The real surprise was the large number of Trilliums that were blooming in the shaded and moist areas on the east branch of the trail.
Sunny, Temperature 65°
We hiked Loop 3 of the three loops heading up Kirk Hill. The trail remains quite steep and would be quite challenging in the rain. Various groups have committed to making the trail more accommodating to hikers by repairing fencing, cut-throughs, and trail steepness. Watch for changes starting this year. On this day we saw lots of the early flowers and many of the ones we would normally see in early June. The real flower show on this date included starry Solomon-plume, heartleaf arnica, rock clematis, bluebells, Canada violet, ballhead waterleaf, American bistort, spring beauty, woodland stars, and sugarbowls.
Others noted include stream violets, sagebrush buttercup, few-flowered shooting star, glacier lily, wartberry fairy-bells, mountain forget-me-nots, many-flowered stickseed, tall pussytoes, Oregon grape, rue, baneberry, yellow violets, and a few chocolate lilies. Some arrowleaf balsamroot were blooming in the lower parts of the hike but likely were in full bloom at the top.
Beautiful day for hiking. Most of the spring flowers are blooming including the rarer ones. The special treats were the striped coralroot and the chocolate lily. There were high numbers of arrowleaf balsamroot and Canada violets. This is the only trail we have ever seen a pink clematis. Other flowers today include forget-me-not, false Solomon seal, lupines, arnica, columbine, woodland star, bluebells, field chickweed, ballhead waterleaf, prairiesmoke, larkspur, Nuttals violet, blue clematis (columbiana).
Photos on this page (Top to Bottom): Stream Violet, Ballhead Waterleaf, Canada Violet, Glacier Lily, Rock Clematis Click to Enlarge
Photos by Carolyn Hopper