Northern Region Viewing Area
LOCATION and PHOTOS
Fairy slipper orchid (Calypso bulbosa).
Coralroot (Corallorrhiza striata).
Morrell Falls Trail
Forest: Lolo National Forest
District: Seeley Lake Ranger District
Description: The trail to Morrell Falls is a favorite hike of patrons in the local community. It is an easy, well used, 5.4-mile round-trip hiking path that passes through coniferous forests and two mountain lakes. The falls is within the Morrell Creek drainage, which is fed by Grizzly Basin and is located adjacent to the Bob Marshall Wilderness. This National Recreation Trail offers views of the Seeley-Swan Mountain Range. Undeveloped campsites are available at Morrell Lake, but developed drinking water is not available.
Wildflowers: The trail is accessible by late spring and wildflowers can be seen through the fall months. Early season wildflowers include fairy slipper orchids (Calypso bulbosa), glacier lilys (Erythronium grandiflorum), and violets (Viola spp.). Tiny carnivorous sundew plants (Drosera rotundifolia) can be seen along the lake edges, as well as spotted frogs on lily pads. During the summer months, forest understory plants will be at their peak bloom period.
Forest trees include Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii), larch (Larix occidentalis), lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta), Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), grand fir (Abies grandis), and subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa). This mixed coniferous stand is cool in the summer months and allows the hiker to enjoy viewing the various wildflowers on the forest floor. Wildflowers include several small evergreen plants including prince’s pine (Chimaphilla umbellata), bunchberry (Cornus canadensis), Oregon grape (Mahonia repens), kinnikinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) and wintergreens (Pyrola spp.). Several wildflowers in the lily and orchid family can be seen throughout the season and include beargrass (Xerophyllum tenax), queencup beadlily (Clintonia uniflora), starry false lily of the valley (Maianthemum stellatum), green false hellebore (Veratrum viride), twaybades (Listera spp.) and coralroots (Corallorrhiza spp).
Safety: Morrell Falls is located in grizzly bear country and hikers should travel with a companion or in a group. Hikers botanizing along the lakes should be careful near the lake’s edge as the vegetation may be on floating mats. Weather in this country can change rapidly and hikers should come prepared with rainwear and good water repellant hiking boots.
Directions: From the town of Seeley Lake proceed north to Forest Road 477. Turn east along the road for about 1 mile until you reach Forest Road 4353. Travel north along this road for about 5 miles until you see the trailhead sign for Morrell Falls. The trailhead has several parking spots and an outdoor toilet.
Ownership and Management: U.S. Forest Service, Lolo National Forest, Seeley Lake Ranger District.
Closest Town: Seeley Lake, Montana.