Montana Kickass Experience: Morrell Falls

Looking for an easy, peasy hike and a beautiful waterfall in Western Montana?

Then read on!

The most challenging part of the Morrell Falls hike is finding the trailhead and parking lot. But the search is just a part of the adventure, isn’t it? The trail itself is rated moderate probably due to the length – 8.7km or 5.4 miles, but most people call it easy because of the small elevation gain (less than 500 feet). About 2.3 miles into it, you’ll come across Morrell Lake, where you can fish and swim if you so desire. But, definitely keep going (you clicked for a waterfall, didn’t you?!?) continue past it, you’ll be walking through more beautiful forests of the Bob Marshall Wilderness, full of wildflowers, birds and other wild critters (read below). Your final destination will be hard to miss – a spectacular 90-foot double falls.

The first portion of the trail is located through a lodgepole pine flat. The remainder passes through a mixed forest of pine, fir, larch, and spruce. The drainages in this area support a variety of wildlife including beaver, bobcat, black and grizzly bear, elk, deer, mountain lion, and moose.

This hike is best completed from June to October, so bring a few necessities with you during the summer/early fall months:

  • plenty of water
  • any type of shoe (you’ll be mostly on a well-worn forested path and then a few rocks around the actual waterfall.)
  • sunblock or sunscreen (when we went in the Summer of 2019, a lot of the tree cover was gone due to a 2017 fire 😦
Internet-picked mushroom, not from the actual Morrell Falls.

Fun Fact! In 2018, much of the trail featured morel mushrooms sprouting from the forest fire’s ashes, which were one of the first things to grow back.

  • this trail is dog and horse-friendly, so feel free to bring your favorite pet(s)!
  • binoculars if you’d like to do some bird watching, or maybe even a distant grizzly bear (yes, this part of the state is their territory, so be alert and aware!)
  • a camera of course!
  • a mountain bike, if you feel like riding the trail instead.
  • fishing poles, bait if you feel like fishing
  • bug spray is recommended elsewhere online, but we didn’t encounter any mosquitoes while there in late August of 19′
  • a snack or lunch, plenty of hikers make this trip into a lunch date with that gorgeous view as your Nature’s Television!

Remember: Visitors are reminded to practice Leave No Trace, Leave No Weeds, and proper trail etiquette techniques.

First few miles of the hike:

“This trail offers excellent huckleberry picking in season.”

Morrell Lake views:

“A few trout have been seen feeding in the lake, as have a few moose.”

Morrell Falls:

Finding beautiful details in nature: 

From my family to yours: remember, that you’re ever only one silly branch away from a peaceful feeling and a smile!

Getting there: From the town of Seeley Lake, travel 0.5 miles north on Highway 83. Turn east (right) on Morrell Creek Road (small green street sign) which becomes Forest Service Road #477/Cottonwood Lakes Road, and travel 1.1 miles. Turn north (left) on West Morrell Road #4353 and travel about 6 miles. Turn east (right) on Pyramid Pass Road #4381, go 0.25 mile. Then turn north (left) on Morrell Falls Road #4364. Continue for 1 mile to the Morrell Falls Trailhead and parking area.

Other trails nearby:

Grizzly Basin Trail #409:An old hunter/trapper trail that heads six miles north into the Grizzly Basin area. Leaves main trail about 100 yards from the base of the falls and heads into the Swan Mountains along the east fork of Morrell Creek. This trail is unmaintained and can be difficult to follow. It offers solitude and more natural and physical challenges.

• Morrell Creek Trail #383: A primitive trail that takes off from the main trail near Morrell Lake. It goes up the west fork of Morrell Creek to Trail 430. Three and a half miles long and infrequently maintained.

Crescent Mountain Trail #391: (Editors note: this trail appears on some maps but may not exist anymore) A primitive trail that takes off from the beginning of the main trail and climbs onto the flank of Crescent Mountain. A mile and a half long and is not maintained.

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Published by Alla Ponomareva

Daejeon based portrait and travel photographer/EFL teacher with a passion for traveling on a budget and sharing her stories on her blog www.allaponomareva.com

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