Hiking, Montana, Travel

Explore Montana: Hike Blodgett Canyon in the Bitterroot

Blodgett Canyon Montana Bitterroot mountains

Blodgett Canyon is home to cheap thrills for little the effort. Beginning up the Canyon Creek Trail (Road #735) and ending at Romney Ridge, the Blodgett Canyon Overlook trail is just 1.5 miles in length (or 3 miles roundtrip).

– Beginning elevation: 5,000 feet – Ending elevation: 6,100 feet – Elevation gain: 1,100 feet –

Blodgett Canyon Hike Bitterroot Montana The ApproachThe Bitterroot Montana Approaching Blodgett Canyon Overlook TrailDriving to Blodgett Canyon Overlook Trail Bitterroot Montana

The site of a human ignited burn (11,486 acres of it) during the hot, dry summer of 2000 (someone left a campfire on), this Bitterroot hike remains largely exposed, arid and sunny so bring water and hydrate your dog (Pit Bull Kelvin got heat stroke here once).

Pit Bull Kelvin Blodgett Canyon Overlook Trail Hike Bitterroot Mountains Montana

Blodgett Canyon Overlook trail winds along with views of the Sapphire Mountain Range, which according to Geologists was formed some 70 million years ago when it slid off the Bitterroot.

Arnica Flowers on Blodgett Canyon Overlook Trail Bitterroot Montana

Essentially, at that time (approximately 70 million years prior to today), the earth’s crust in the Bitterroot Valley was comprised of a granite rock “heart” and a sedimentary rock “skin.” Both the Bitterroot range and the Sapphire were formed when an intrusion of molten magma (i.e. a mass of hot liquid rock, volatiles and solids located underground) pummeled through the earth’s crust.

Blodgett Canyon Overlook Trail

With this push the granite heart became the Bitterroot range and the sedimentary skin trickled off to create the Sapphire.

Pit Bull Kelvin on the Blodgett Overlook Trail Bitterroot Montana

As the Bitterroot shed the weight of its heavy sedimentary skin it rose even higher and cold temperatures at these lofty elevations provided optimal conditions for glaciers.

Purple Flowers Montana Bitterroot Range Blodgett Canyon Overlook Hike

These glaciers carved the Bitterroot into the U-shaped valleys separated by sharp, jagged peaks and ridges that we see today.

Cairn and Pit Bull Kelvin at Blodgett Canyon Overlook Trail Montana BitterrootBlodgett Canyon Overlook Montana Bitterroot RangePit Bull Kelvin Near Fire Pit at Blodgett Canyon Overlook Bitterroot Range Montana

Blodgett Canyon Overlook Hike Bitterroot Montana TrailsBlodgett Canyon Bitterroot Montana from Blodgett Canyon Overlook TrailBitterroot Mountains Montana Blodgett Canyon Overlook Trail

Unlike the tall, protruding Bitterroot Range, the Sapphire Mountains are stubbier. Low and rounded, they have never been glaciated and are composed of sedimentary rather than granite rock.

Views of the Sapphire Range from Blodgett Canyon Overlook Trail Bitterroot Montana

To get here: From Missoula, take US-93 S for 34 miles. Take a right on Bowman Road. In .7 miles turn left at Ricketts Road. Drive for 2 miles and continue onto Blodgett Camp Road for 1.8 miles. Turn right to stay on Blodgett Camp Rd and after about .3 miles turn left at Forest Service Road #735.