The true hidden gem of western Montana: Ross Creek Cedar Grove Scenic Area, home to a grove of giant, ancient western red cedars.
This gem is located about an hour from Libby, Montana, in the Kootenai National Forest. I’ll admit, when I first heard of this place, I was skeptical but this place blew any preconceived notion out of the water! (And this is coming from the girl who grew up visiting the giant Sequoias of California.)
The drive to Ross Creek is kind of far from any town, but it’s a beautiful drive through the mountains. Once you get to the turnoff and head to the scenic area, the road gets somewhat steep and windy, so be cautious.
At the park, there is a short mile-long loop you can take for an easy nature trail. It was flat and paved in spots, so very easy for anyone with mobility issues or children. There was quite a bit of parking, bathrooms, and it’s free to visit.
As I mentioned before – I didn’t have particularly high expectations for this park but I was in awe the entire time. I’ve never seen such giant cedars! I didn’t know that they could grow that big, if I’m honest; I didn’t realize that any tree besides a sequoia could grow that large. And the smell of this place – oh my goodness! Cedar is one of my favorite scents and I was in heaven.
VisitMontana.com says, “Some of these trees grow up to 12 feet in diameter and 175 feet in height. Consisting of 500-year-old giant red cedars in a rain forest atmosphere, this area is a favorite with visitors to the Forest.” Other sites, like the U.S. Forest Service, state that the cedars are 1,000 years old!
This visit was very humbling for me. To know that these giant trees have been here for a long, long time, and will likely be here after I’m gone. They are a feat of nature that show its perseverance and beauty.
If you’re up for a little bit of a longer hike, there’s a few that fork off the nature trail. One of those hikes is Trail 142; there are northern (5 miles) and southern (2 miles) options. My family and I took the northern trail. We didn’t go the entire way as we were on a limited time frame, but it was beautiful nonetheless.
On the trail, you leave the giant cedar grove and venture into the woods. There’s still lots of smaller cedars, just none of the giant ones. If you go far enough, there’s a stream filled with freezing water, if you dare to put your feet in.
My family and I visited in early August and at this time, there weren’t too many bugs out – except for giant horseflies, so watch out.
I absolutely LOVE this spot in Montana and 100000% recommend a stop at Ross Creek Cedars, if you can make it down there! It took my breath away.
Thank you for reading! Have you ever been to Ross Creek Cedars or seen the giant cedars? Let me know in the comments below and like this post if you want more like it!