Montana's national parks are probably the first things that spring to mind when you think of it. For a good reason, Yellowstone was the first national park ever created. Glacier National Park, which spills over into Canada, is the little sister of Yellowstone National Park. The park is less famous but equally beautiful.
For those who go out of their way to come to Montana, it has to be worth their time, effort, and money. Seeing its most famous landmarks makes sense if you're only going to come here once in a lifetime.
Trout Creek, Montana, should be high on your list if you already live out west or you prefer to take the less-traveled road.
Trout Creek is a tiny dot on the map, located off the scenic Highway 200 that connects Idaho to Montana. As you cross over the bridge that spans Noxon Reservoir and creates a breathtaking entrance to this small municipality, you will be wide-eyed and open-mouthed at the surrounding beauty.
Trout Creek is known as the "Huckleberry Capital of Montana," according to a welcome sign. The Huckleberry Festival celebrated every August, celebrates this tasty purple berry. You will see signs promoting their "huckleberry products" or tempting you with their "huckleberry milkshakes" in the local shops and restaurants.
The location of Trout Creek right on Noxon Rapids Reservoir also makes it very special. Between Thompson Falls and Noxon, MT, the Clark Fork River was dammed up to create the reservoir. The Clark Fork River is at its widest point here and can reach depths of 100 feet in some spots.
This is the place if you are interested in water sports, boating, fishing, or any other outdoor activity. It is stunning, but it is also barely known due to its status as Montana's best-kept secret. Many other boats are usually out on the water, even on the most spectacular summer days. We don't have overcrowded boat ramps, we don't get run over by mindless jetskiers, and we don't have commercial tour operators clogging up the reservoirs.
Six months of the year, I'm fortunate enough to live here. Although my husband and I run a boat rental business, we have managed to get out in the kayaks this summer with friends for some light, scenic paddling.
There are many little inlets you can put in if you know where to go. I put in at the eponymous Trout Creek inlet with a friend on board my Old Town Otter. On the way back from their kayak excursion, one group was taking a break.
Then we went back as far as we could towards the feeder river's mouth. It was pretty shallow since it was late in the summer, so we couldn't get back too far before it became too shallow for us to continue. Despite the clear weather, smallmouth bass and perch darted beneath your kayak. There is also excellent pike fishing and largemouth bass fishing at Noxon Reservoir.
We stopped at the main inlet on our way back, whose boundary can be identified by the railroad bridge that crosses its mouth as it empties into the reservoir. Paddling up to a local beaver dam, we witnessed one of the many daily trains passing by.
As a result of the daily trains passing through the county, I became smitten with the area. Various crisscrossing bridges connect them at multiple points along the river.
With a languid whistle echoing in the distance, the trains are far from being an obnoxious nuisance. Instead, they remind one of a different era and place. Boaters or kayakers will find them a welcome sight as they cruise the waterway.
After paddling through the inlet for an hour, my friend and I have to take care of responsibilities at home. After a day's outing, we met to feed her horses, and I to welcome another renter back.
There are no hot springs or geysers in Trout Creek. The area isn't too crowded nor too expensive, either. Noxon Reservoir produced the state record largemouth bass. Trails for ATVs, snowmobiles, and hiking abound. Hunters congregate in the area every season to hunt bears, turkeys, deer, and elk. Area waterfalls throughout the county feed countless trout streams.
Experiencing nature at its pristine best does not require a trip to a busy national park. Bring the kayak, fishing rods, tent, and fishing gear to Trout Creek and get off the beaten path. Discover Montana's best-kept secret, the Huckleberry Capital, a gateway to nature and gateway to the great outdoors!