Ross Creek Scenic Area

Photo thumbnail showing rock giant cedar trees up close

Ross Creek has been known for many years for the Western Red Cedars which grow along its banks. The beauty and serenity of the cedars were preserved for all to enjoy when the 100-acre Scenic Area was established in 1960. The Forest Service manages and protects Scenic Areas for their scientific and recreational value.

You can enjoy the cedar grove by taking the .9 mile self-guided nature trail which forms a winding loop through this old-growth forest environment. The wide path leads you past informative signs telling you the history and ecology of the many plant and animal species native to the grove. In addition to the giant cedars (8 feet in diameter by 175 feet tall), you will see large specimens of other western trees and the many lush ferns and flowers of the shady forest floor. Some of the information stops along your walk include interpretive signs discussing the interconnection between the plants, animals, and fishes of the ecosystem. The nature trail also leads you to the banks of Ross Creek, at a point where the creek often runs hidden beneath its colorful rocky bottom. The waters of Ross Creek come from the rugged alpine basins and peaks of the upper Ross Creek valley, from which centuries of erosion and glaciation have deposited the soils of the cedar grove. The cathedral atmosphere of the grove is magnified by the knowledge that many of these trees were growing before Columbus set sail for the new world.

While you are visiting the Cedar Grove you may want to picnic at the scenic streamside picnic grounds near the parking area. If you are lucky, you might even catch your lunch, as Ross Creek is home to native cutthroat trout.

Getting There

The route to the scenic area is easy. Just take State highway 56 in northwestern Montana to a point just south of Bull Lake, where the four mile long road to the grove heads to the west. There are no camping facilities at the Cedar Grove, but there are two National Forest campgrounds on Bull Lake, and one of these, Bad Medicine Campground, is along the road to the Scenic Area.