RONAN — Do you like your nature walks to have a tropical feel with a lush forest and sounds of a rolling stream that leads you an invigorating waterfall? Hidden in the deep greens of the Mission Mountains, the North Crow Creek trail navigates hikers to a cascade of water pouring off several levels of gigantic rocks that transports any soul to their roots of nature.
The North Crow Creek trail located in the Mission Mountains on Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes land is a 12.5 mile lightly trafficked in-and-out trail with only a little over a mile to reach the falls.
A handful of local hikers made a date with one another for a short morning hike to the falls via the CSKT Fitness Center and Tribal Health Nutrition last Wednesday. The Tribal Health team has offered a couple hikes this summer from a bit strenuous to easy.
Although All Trails website and app rates the Crow Creek as “hard”, Paul Phillips, CSKT Fitness Coordinator, said the North Crow Creek trail was booked because one can go as far as they want and turn back. The group planned to make an “easy” level hike by going as far as the falls for all skill levels to join — with a bonus beauty of waterfalls and a small pool.
“It doesn’t take much time or physical ability to go further and experience something beautiful,” said Phillips.
“This hike isn’t the hardest to get to the falls,” he said. Phillips said it’s a great way to get kids out on a trail. “They can play around and will see things and experience it and start to ask questions. They will learn more on nature and culture.”
Phillips said the big push for community hikes from a tribal health fitness perspective is to “Get someone out here hooked on getting outdoors and maybe try other hikes and continue an active lifestyle,” said Phillips.
Lynn Hendrickson, CSKT Tribal Health
Hendrickson, Salish, started hiking in her local tribal lands years ago with a group of people from CSKT Departments and programs and she’s still out joining CSKT group hikes on top of looking for new trails and spots in the area to hike on her own.
“I love being outdoors, it’s my therapy,” said Hendrickson. Since her grandkids, whom she raises, started school on Wednesday, she said joining the morning hike was her time “To do something for her.”
Hendrickson describes her thoughts while walking. “You’re awed by the beauty of Mother Nature and we are reminded of how pitiful two-legged people are.” She also added being out in the mountains and away from everyday life tasks brings her back to a connection to her ancestors. “We come from strong people.”
She added she loves the smells of the pines and looking at the beauty Mother Nature has to offer.
Rose Dix, Arlee resident
Dix said one has to start somewhere to take in nature. She took her five and seven year old children to hike Avalanche Lake trail in Glacier Park this summer and it’s her third trip up the North Crow Creek trail.
“It’s nice to get away from society and not worry so much,” she said.
Dix, an avid hiker, has done a number of lake hikes this summer; some in local Reservation area and others a short Montana drive away such as: Finley Lakes, McDonald Lake, Lucifer Lake, and Picture Lake.
“You don’t want to be stuck in the gym all summer to work out,” she said. You want to get outside and enjoy workouts. “It’s calming and nice to get away.
Kati Burton, CSKT Tribal Health Nutritionist
“Hiking is really great way to silence all the distraction of every day life,” said Burton. “We always talk about nature being a separate thing. It’s not. We are nature. It’s all around us.”
Burton said it’s meaningful to take time to listen to your footsteps, wind and the water as you walk. “Seeing new colors and taking time for yourself and giving gratitude is such a wonderful experience; and hiking does that for us.”
"Putting on these events is pretty fun. It brings people together,” said Burton. She added it’s great way to meet new friends as well, “Maybe if you didn’t know each other before and having a personal experience while walking the trail together, you might find a friend that’s just as much into it as you are. It may spark up a hiking date.”
The North Crow trail is located on CSKT tribal lands on the Flathead Reservation. Recreation permits are required for non-members of CSKT. Permits can be purchased online at Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks or other vendors throughout Western Montana. Local merchants Wal-Mart and Westland Seed sell permits. Visit CSKT.org for more information on permits.