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Spanish Peaks, Colorado

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Waterworks Hill Hike

 I have a wonderful book titled "Day Hikes Around Missoula Montana". Each hike is broken down with descriptions, directions, difficulty, mileage, maps, etc. Since we've seen about everything around here that we want to see, we are spending my days off trying out a variety of hikes. We're starting with the more gentle hikes, not too steep and not over 3 miles. This one was 2.5 miles. Waterworks Hill is right across I-90 from downtown Missoula and the literature boasted both millions of wildflowers and awesome views of the city. We concur! The name comes from a huge, silver water reservoir on the hillside. I hope you will enlarge each of these photos to get the best view.

 Always a favorite of mine, the shy and beautiful Bitterroot adorned the hills here and there. These delicate, leafless flowers seem to prefer dry, rocky terrain. They even have a mountain range named for them.

 I could not identify this daisy-like flower, but was intrigued by the unusual leaf structure and color.

We climbed up and up quite a ways, then saw this scene ahead of us. Helpful hikers assured us there was a shortcut before the top of the hill which led to the return route we had planned. We decided that was the one for us!

 Looking back from the entrance to the shortcut we saw this gorgeous scene, Mt. Jumbo with the "L" and Mt. Sentinel with the famous "M". The valley between the two mountains is Hellgate Canyon where I-90 takes travelers east.

 Looking down from our high point we saw the trail below, heading back towards where we had left our car. It's called Cherry Gulch. I have always found it more difficult to go downhill rather than uphill, but what goes up must come down! These hills below are covered with a yellow flowering plant called Leafy Spurge, though it doesn't show too well in this photo.

 Coming down from the high, treeless and rocky hill above we came back into a young ponderosa pine forest with the leafy spurge thick all around.

One more photo along our trail, showing the spurge and other wildflowers, with majestic clouds shadowing Mt. Sentinel. The Waterworks Hill Hike was well worth exploring! We met lots of folks who were also out on this sunny, warm day.