Also known as Babcock Mountain Trail 10, the trailhead can be a little deceiving. You’ll see the sign for the hiking trail just south of the turn for the Valley of the Moon area near the 2-mile marker on Rock Creek Road. Pull into the turn-out of the river side and park. Easy enough, now where’s the trail?
As you face the mountain, the land rises sharply in front of you. to the left, and hidden from view by low bushes you’ll find the trail that leads from the valley floor to heights and amazing views. The first part of the trail is very steep, however, in no time, it will become a gradual climb.
The trail is maintained forest service and is part of the Lolo National Forest.
The trail is about 2.5 miles long, one way, and you gain nearly 2000 feet of elevation. The trail ends at the junction with forest service road on Babcock Mountain. Take a right onto the forest service road for more views and a longer hike. Return to Trail 10 to hike back to Rock Creek Road.
The views are incredible throughout the entire hike; even less than a half mile up the trail. From the higher elevations, you can see I-90, Lolo Peak, and the Mission Mountains. The tall electrical towers that cross Rock Creek seem small.
Start your hike in the morning hours as the west-facing trail will be shade as the sun climbs from the East. There are several switchbacks and the trail picks up a tree canopy as you climb steadily upward. Bring water as there are no streams near the trail.
Perhaps the best time to hike Trail 10 is in May or June when the wildflowers are in bloom. Acres of arrowleaf balsamroot cascade down the slopes. Lupine joins the color show along with larkspur, shooting star, and paintbrushes.
If you love wildflowers, bring along a guidebook to identify the numerous varieties.
It’s good to be prepared before taking a hike. Check with the local weather to be sure you’ll have good conditions. Here are some items to bring along.
- Water – there is no available water along the trail
- Bear Spray
- Bug and Tick Repellant
- Camera / Phone
- Backpack – in case you need to shed clothing
- Good Boots or Shoes