Hiking Sweathouse Falls

One of the best things about living in the Bitterroot Mountain–a beautiful hike is never far away. Yesterday, the Amazing Sleeping Man and I hiked up to Sweathouse Falls. It’s a fairly easy hike, 2.5 miles with less than a 1,500 ft elevation gain, but it’s lovely.

The biggest challenge of this trail is starting it. To reach the trail, you have to walk through an active quarry, past an explosives bunker. So, if there’s a warning sign up, find another hike! And even if the gate to the quarry is open, don’t park up there. You might get stuck. Park in the designated lot. While we were on the trail, they’d evidently loaded some rocks, but there weren’t any active operations when we left.

The trail starts, like most Bitterroot trails, going west through a stream-carved canyon. Sweathouse is particularly narrow and steep, making it nice and shady most of the time. It stays narrow for the first mile, with a very wide tread. After you cross an irrigation ditch (look up just before the 1-mile point and you’ll see the waterway perched precariously on the cliff) it starts to open up a bit, looking like a more typical Bitterroot canyon with dramatic granite walls.

The first waterfall is the tallest and prettiest. Even after a record-dry August, there is plenty of water to enjoy.

The second waterfall isn’t as tall, but it’s still beautiful. Notice all the logs? We had record snowfall this year, which probably meant a lot of very fast water over this dropoff, carrying all kinds of things. The logs are pretty heavy, so they stick around.

It was a perfect summer hike, the day partly cloudy and cool, just one other couple on the trail, and no equipment problems. I even found a couple of lingering wild raspberries. But the signs of fall are appearing–the foliage is starting to turn color. It won’t be long before we’ll need long sleeves, then long underwear, and finally, switch to skiing!

I hope you get to enjoy the rest of your summer!

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