Features: This is a 2 1/2-mile hike through ponderosa pine forest at the Pattee Canyon Recreation Area, on the eastern edge of Missoula.
Flowers: Of particular note on these trails are lady’s slipper orchids (Cypripedium montanum). These plants are 1 to 2 feet tall with a bulbous white flower that has a yellow lip and two brown to purple sepals and two brown to purple petals. Lady’s slipper was just beginning to bloom early this week, so they should grow in abundance. You can also expect to see stalks of pale blue camas, purple lupine and large yellow arrowleaf balsamroot flowers. (“Wildflowers of Montana,” by Donald Anthony Schiemann.)
Description: The Crazy Canyon trailhead is located 3 1/2 miles up Pattee Canyon Road from its intersection with South Higgins Avenue. Follow Trail 302 uphill to the north, past the small kiosk. Just before reaching the old Crazy Canyon road, look for camas in a small, level meadow. After crossing the road, veer northeast onto Trail 302.3 just before reaching it again and continue uphill. In the vicinity of the junction with Trail 302.6, to the east, look for lady’s slipper orchids just off the path at the edge of thicker brush. Trail 302.3 crosses a strip cleared for a utility lines, then turns west at about one mile and begins to descend. Where the trail curves at a small clearing, look for orchids again off to the side. After a short distance, the trail reconnects with the Crazy Canyon road; follow it downhill to a clearing and then walk a short distance uphill to the southwest, back on Trail 302. The path quickly descends into the Crazy Creek drainage – look for orchids again in the grass at the bottom – then rises slightly at about two miles. After reconnecting with the road, follow the original route back down to the trailhead.