A Colorful Fall Hike to Blossom Lake

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Flag of United States  , Idaho
Sunday, October 3, 2010

Blossom Lakes are located on the Idaho/ Montana divide, just off the Thompson Pass highway (between Murray, Idaho and Thompson Falls, Montana).  There's an Upper and Lower Blossom Lake and we'd heard this was a good place for a day hike (or short backpacking trip).  So on a nice fall day four of us -- friends Greg and Oscar; wife Sylvia and your humble correspondent -- left Spokane for a pleasant drive through the beautiful landscape of the Idaho panhandle.  The road leading to the trail head is paved, of good quality and not very busy, every corner yielding another beautiful vista.  There's a large parking area at the trail head located around 4850 feet above sea level. 

The hike to Lower Blossom lake is a moderately easy 6 mile round trip on a trail of good quality -- well maintained and with good footing -- gaining almost a thousand feet in altitude.  During the first half mile of the trail you walk beside a man-made ditch, part of a diversion canal built by Chinese laborers over a century ago to aid with mining, although it was never used.  The hike is mostly through a thick mixed sub-alpine forest of Douglas fir, Sitka spruce, lodgepole pine and western larch (whose needles were changing to a brilliant yellow color at the time of our hike).  Huckleberry bushes and small shrubs were also brilliant in their fall foliage of yellow, orange and red and added to our enjoyment of the hike.  Many fungi and mushrooms were popping up and a few wildflowers persisted.  While the trail is mostly wooded there are a few clearings offering good vistas of the forested mountains of Western Montana.  The best views, however, were upon our arrival at Lower Blossom Lake where we were treated to the sight of a beautiful mountain lake in a cirque whose hills were steep and also decorated in fall colors.  The cirque of Upper Blossom Lake could be seen to the southwest.

For backpackers there are a number of nice level campsites, some with fire-pits, on the northeastern shore of Lower Blossom Lake.  The lake is stocked with trout so fishing is an option.  There's lots of opportunities for birdwatchers and I'm sure if you were to rest quietly you'd also see some wildlife.  We enjoyed a snack and took in the view but soon it started to rain so we headed back to the trail-head.  

For the more energetic or those with more time there are options of longer and more scenic hikes available past Lower Blossom Lake.  Pear Lake is small lake another mile up-trail and beyond that lies Glidden Ridge which at 6600 feet offers wonderful panoramic 360 degree vistas.

It was a pleasant day and it's a hike I'd recommend to all.  For a more thorough description of this trail, including better traveling directions, I would refer the interested reader to Rich Landers' excellent book, 100 Hikes in the Inland Northwest.

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If you would like to see high resolution images of the accompanying photos, please click on this link:  http://drfumblefinger.com/?p=485.  There is a slideshow towards the bottom of the post; right click on the right icon in its toolbar for full screen views.
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