June 4 – Storm Castle Trail, Gallatin National Forest, Montana

by Capitol Area Fishing on June 4, 2010

The Hike:

My friend Rod Jude, who I stayed with while visiting Big Sky, MT suggested that I take a day off from fishing and go on a hike with him on one of the innumerable trails in the Gallatin National Forest.  This guy gets up at 5 am every morning for a 5 mile walk just to limber up. What was I thinking when I agreed to this hike?

Storm Castle Trail

So we packed a lunch, compass, water, bear spray, and GPS and off we went down the canyon in the car to the Storm Castle Trail head. (Bear spray??)

This trail is a medium hike of 5 miles, but what Rod neglected to tell me was that it is almost straight up the whole 2 ½ miles. Storm Castle is a rock outcrop on top of a mountain and from the canyon floor it looks formidable. The trail is a series of switch backs at a 20 to 30 degree incline that did not do my old legs any favors. Luckily this was Rod’s first major hike of the season and he was not fairing much better than I. On the way up you go thru several levels of forest as the accent is over 2000 ft with snow on the upper levels.

About half way up we paused for one of the many “catch our breath moments,” and to my right I saw a beautiful bird on the forest floor. When I later looked it up, it turned out to be a Hungarian Grey Partridge or Hun for short. I read that these birds were introduced to the area back in the 1990s, and are now thriving. This particular bird was prancing around with all its tail feathers fanned out – evidently courting some unseen female bird. Sheesh! The things us guys do to attract females!

Switchbacks

Switchbacks

Rod on Storm Castle Trail

Rod on Storm Castle Trail

Finally, close to the top we entered a snowy forest and Thank God air conditioning because I was sweating by now and drinking lots of water.  The top was finally in sight. Rod sat with his legs hanging over the precipice like there was nothing to it. I on the other hand remained well back clutching on to a large boulder. The view from up there was spectacular; cars passing through the canyon below looked like toys.

We sat there for a good hour visiting with another group of hikers and having our lunch. Also joining us was a rather bold chipmunk and from his reaction to us I don’t think we where the first group that he joined for lunch. When I found a tick crawling on my neck we decided to head back down the mountain. Compared to the trip up the downward trek was a piece of cake, but the next day I was hobbling around on sore legs.

The peak at Storm Castle Trail

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Andy Tingstad June 21, 2011 at 11:28 am

Very nice article and thank you very much.

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