The Glacier region is known as the crown of the continent and this basin, in many ways, is our crown’s hidden jewel. If you’re looking for beautiful hikes, pristine mountain lakes and no motorized traffic, this is your place. Jewel Basin is 15,349 acres of wilderness. Within the area there are 27 lakes and 35 miles of trails, and it’s very easy to access. That’s precisely why locals rate it among the best places to go for a day hike come Saturday.
DAY-VENTURING IN THE JEWEL BASIN
ACTIVITIES YOU’LL LOVE
Hiking — The Jewel Basin has 35 miles of trails dedicated to hiking only. No motorized traffic. No bicycles. No horses. Which means you’ll feel like you have the place pretty much to yourself, particularly on weekdays.
Catch A Wildcat Cutthroat — If you’re so inclined, take a fly or spinning rod on your hike and spend a little time plying the waters of Wildcat Lake at the west end of the basin.
Pick a Bouquet for Your Room — Lupine, arrowleaf balsamroot, Indian paintbrush, maybe a little fireweed, it’ll bring a bit of the Jewel back to your room. And you can press them as a memento of your hike.
Test Your GPS — There are lots of great trail options in the Basin, but if you’re an experienced trekker you might want to go off trail to the beautiful and secluded Cliff Lake or the Pilgrim Lakes.
Take a Ski Break — If you’re in Kalispell on a ski vacation, snowshoeing in the Jewel Basin is a great change of pace, and you’ll likely have the entire place to yourself.
THINGS YOU’LL NEED
For clothing, dress in layers and be sure to have a rain jacket handy. The weather can change quickly in the mountains and can vary from one elevation to the next. We like good, sturdy hiking boots. The trails range from easy to moderate, but they aren’t sidewalks, so wear good footgear. During mid summer, we suggest having bug spray handy. For gear, we carry a camera, binoculars, daypack, water bottle, trail map and identification guides for plants and animals. If you like to fish, don’t forget your rod and box of flies.
SEASONS YOU’LL ENJOY
Summer is the high season. From late June through early September is the prime season for hiking the area. Wildflower peak varies from year to year but usually starts in late June and runs well into August. Typical daytime highs in summer range from 75˚ and 80˚ F.
Like in Glacier, if you want real solitude, head up here on a bluebird winter day with snowshoes or cross-country skis. Be sure to bundle up, though, winter temps here often dip into the 10˚F range … for highs.
ROUTE YOU’LL TAKE
Take Highway 2 out of Kalispell heading east. It turns into Highway 35 just past the turnoff to Highway 206 and head east on Lake Blaine Road. It becomes Foothill Road. Follow the signs to Camp Misery from there and you’ll see the Jewel Basin trailhead. Drive time is about 30 minutes.