Looking for something to do to get you out of the house? This hike will take you through some of the most beautiful country in Northwest Montana.
Jewel Basin is a designated hiking area consisting of over 15,000 acres, 27 lakes, and over 35 miles of trails. The views are absolutely amazing, including overlooks of the Flathead Valley, hillsides covered with wildflowers, jagged mountain peaks, and deep blue alpine lakes.
It takes about 90 minutes to reach the Camp Misery trailhead from the resort, but is well worth the drive. From Tamaracks Resort, take a left onto Highway 83. Take a right turn off the highway at Echo Lake Road between mile markers 88 and 89. Follow Echo Lake road about 2.5 miles and turn right on Noisy Creek Road. Follow the winding dirt road up the mountain about 7 more miles until you dead-end at a large parking lot. The dirt road is well-used and will be passable for most vehicles.
For maps of the hiking trails in the area, click here. Maps can also be purchased at the cabin at the trailhead for $2 but only if the ranger is there.
An easy trail to start out with is a 4.4-mile round trip hike up to Twin Lakes, a pair of sapphire-colored lakes nestled just on the other side of a notch between two mountain ridges. From Camp Misery, follow trail #8 along the west-facing slope of the Swan Range. Keep your eyes peeled for amazing views of the Upper Flathead Valley, Kalispell and the Whitefish Range. In late August, you might also stumble on to a patch of huckleberry bushes along the trail - but only if you get there first! The trail will eventually swing east and you will travel along a scree field and through a notch. The trail sill split here into #7 and #721. #721 will lead you down to the south end of the southernmost Twin Lake. From here you can backtrack and head along #8 back to Camp Misery.
If you would like to add a mile or so to your trip, you can take the long way back around the ridge. Follow trail #7 south around the back side of the ridge, where you will have some amazing views of alpine valleys filled with wildflowers and peaks that stay snow-covered well into August. The trail will take you through another notch at the south end of the ridge, after which you will meet up with trail #68, which will lead you back to #8 and Camp Misery.
There are a few things to keep in mind while hiking in Jewel Basin. One, there could be snow on the trails well into August. We hiked trial #7 just two days ago and walked on snow for about a mile. Unless you are familiar with the area, it is easy to lose the trail in the snow. Two, Jewel Basin is a very heavily used area due to its proximity to Kailspell, Bigfork and Whitefish. On weekends you may find the Camp Misery parking area full.
Always remember to use safe hiking practices: plan ahead, carry water, check-in at the trailhead if available, stay on trails and walk single-file to prevent erosion, leave no trace and respect wildlife.