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High Country Exploration: Natural History Along the Scenic Point Trail

High Country Exploration: Natural History Along the Scenic Point Trail

Ellen Horowitz

See and feel the environmental changes as you hike from the dense subalpine spruce and fir forest of the Two Medicine Valley to the zone where gnarled, windswept trees hug the ground. Continue upward to the rocky moonscape-like tundra at Scenic Point where colorful wildflowers grow only inches tall. Watch for wildlife and learn about the ways plants and animals adapt, interact and thrive here despite the winds and weather extremes that are part of life along the Rocky Mountain Front.

At the conclusion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Describe at least three ways the physical conditions on a mountain effect plants and animals
  • Identify at least six alpine plants
  • Recognize wildlife sign
  • Identify and define krummholz, cushion plants, mat plants

Ellen Horowitz is a long-time Glacier Institute instructor, and award-winning writer and naturalist. For more than 35 years she has taught field classes, guided tours and written about the flora and fauna of the northern Rocky Mountains.

All classes and participants are asked to practice 'Leave No Trace' ethics.

Meeting Place:  Glacier Institute Field Camp

Itinerary: Following a brief introduction to the variations in climates on the west and east sides of the park we'll drive to the Two Medicine Valley and Scenic Point trailhead. We'll hike at an easy pace with frequent stops to look at plants, scan for wildlife and discuss interactions of plants, animals and the environment.

Food:  Please bring a sack lunch; trail snacks and plenty of water.

Accommodations: Lodging can be purchased for $32/person/night at the Glacier Institute Field Camp on a bluff overlooking the Middle Fork of the Flathead River.  Facilities include bunkhouses, a community bathhouse, a classroom, a library and a kitchen.  Please call the registrar at 406-755-1211 to book lodging.

Equipment: Be prepared for any kind of weather and dress in layers. Sunscreen, hats (with chin straps) and walking sticks are recommended.

Physical Requirements:  Moderate-to-strenuous. Hiking distance covers about 7miles round-trip with a 2300 foot elevation gain.

Transportation:  Glacier Institute bus

Weather: This course will not be canceled due to weather