Magazine article Sunset

Cross-Country Skiing in the Rattlesnake

Magazine article Sunset

Cross-Country Skiing in the Rattlesnake

Article excerpt

You know the scenario. It's a Sunday afternoon in winter, you've been inside all weekend, and you're stir-crazy. So load the cross-country skis into the car and head north from Missoula along Rattlesnake Drive to the 60,000-acre Rattlesnake National Recreation Area and Wilderness, created in 1980 as a place for nature lovers and wildlife. The more accessible recreation section, with its miles of trails for hikers, mountain bikers, and nordic skiers, abuts the wilderness area, dotted with lakes; deer and elk wander about both.

Ten minutes from town, you pull into the parking area for Forest Road 99 (closed to vehicles), which keeps pace with Rattlesnake Creek. Here you'll exchange the buzz of traffic for the hush of newly fallen snow under cottonwoods, Douglas firs, and giant ponderosa pines.

At Schoolhouse Junction, where the path forks, you'll glimpse Strawberry Ridge, which eventually leads to the 7,415-foot Stuart Peak, named after Granville Stuart, Montana's Daniel Boone. …

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