Pika Plantation LbNA # 53637
|Placed Date||May 23 2010|
|Location||Red Lodge, MT|
|Found By||Martini Man|
|Last Update||Sep 16 2011|
**Box is in place as of June 2013.**
This letterbox will take you on a short hike on a mountain trail. The trail is steep at times and rocky, though the distance you will be going is only about a half mile in length. It is a good walk for young children, though you may have to watch them so they donít slip around the water. The trail and nearby rocks can be slippery if itís raining and icy or snowy until June, so watch your step.
In 2008, the Cascade Fire burned over 10,000 acres of the Custer National Forest near Red Lodge and cost nearly $8 million dollars to contain. Many good hiking areas around the West Fork of Rock Creek were devastated. This letterbox will take you to one of the edges of the burn area and if you like, you can drive up the road a bit to view the burned forest or walk on other trails through it. Over the years this area will slowly be returning to life.
One of the first animals to return to the burn areas are the small rodents, the pikas and other lined chipmunks. This letterbox is dedicated to the pika Ė if you look carefully in the rocks or sit and listen for a minute you may see or hear some of these little guys.
From Red Lodge drive on Ski Run Road as if you were headed to the ski area. Before the road begins its true ascent of the mountain you will see West Fork Road to your left. Drive on West Fork Road for several miles. The trailhead you are looking for is roughly 6 miles from town. After passing Wild Bill Lake (where I have another letterbox you might like to stop and find), you will see the trailhead for Basin Creek Lakes Trail #61 on your left. During my last visit the turn into the parking lot wasnít marked too well from the road but the trailhead is marked clearly enough.
Walk up Trail #61. Eventually you will see a trail peel off to the left (Silver Run Trail #102), which you should ignore. Continue straight and up. The right side of the trail is burned forest. The left side of the trail, however, is unburned and the difference between the two sides is amazing. How long will it take for the two sides to resemble one and other once again?
Soon you will come to a waterfall, the lower falls, and as you approach it, youíll see that there is also an upper, much prettier, falls. Enjoy the lower falls for a while and then look to your right. The official trail continues this way, up and around the hill. Before setting off on that route though, look nearby for the only route to the upper falls. Itís a short trail and then a scramble over some bare rocks. Right before you begin really rock climbing look at the lower left edge of several large rocks. Here, behind a shoe-sized rock youíll find the letterbox. Please rehide well when youíre finished and remember that the box shouldn't be visible to those passing close by!
If you like, you can continue up and over to see the upper falls close up (somewhat risky for those with unsure footing), continue on to Lower and Upper Basin Lakes, or return to your car to explore other trails. Just a mile or so past the trailhead, in the forest along the left side of the road, a little bird told me you can find lots of morel mushrooms in June if the weather is just right!
Oh, and I forgot to put a First Finders in this box. I guess you will just have to take the waterfall as your prize!