By Robert Lucke
When the leaves go and colors turn drab is one of the best times of all to hike through the upper areas of Beaver Creek Park.
Much that is hidden during three seasons and covered with snow and hard to see as well as being not very accessible is during this in between time interesting and surprising.
One of the very best of all trails this time of year to walk on is the Beaver Creek Trail. This is a trail that starts just west of the Lions Campground above the creek and wanders at very little elevation change up to the Rocky Boy Reservation fence. There are elevation changes when dropping down into coulees along the way and a good way to find the trail in the first place is to follow the power line on the west side of Beaver Creek Park.
Since there are no leaves and grasses have dropped back with freezes and cattle grazing on the hillsides, the trail is open up to a series of tiny watercourses, falls, and rivulets not seen at all most of the rest of the year. In addition the trial is a very good way to view the topography of the great Beaver Creek Valley with few trees hiding the lay of the land. Views and vistas are not obscured and yet there is plenty of color for the camera buff with the thick green fir forests that encompass that part of the park.
The Beaver Creek Trail as a whole starts on the east side of Kiwanis Camp and runs all the way up through the Rocky Boy Reservation area to almost the East Fork Dam. Walking the trail in its entirety is a good way to spend an entire day while walking from Lions Campground to the reservation fence is a couple of hours with time left to look around.
An added benefit of that trail is that when the trail drops down into the Broughs Coulee area, just to the west and still inside the park is one of the few wild areas of Beaver Creek Park untouched by roads. This tiny area is beautiful anytime of the year and lends itself to a fair amount of the park that is quite like it was five hundred years ago. It is worth a stop to explore that area. It is an area of going up and down to get into it. Not much level ground in that wild part of Beaver Creek Park.
This time of year dont miss climbing Mount Otis. The trail head is found on the eastern end of Mooneys Coulee and is marked with a park sign. One of the most beautiful trails in Beaver Creek Park, this trail wanders around and back and forth up Mount Otis, really the only mountain of any size that is mostly in Beaver Creek Park. In spite of elevation change, the climb is easy for most everyone due to the gradual slope of a trail built by CCC boys in the 1930s.
The view from the top is spectacular from all four sides and this time of year when the Bear Paw air is usually quite clean and clear, it is astonishing how far can be seen from the top of Mount Otis.
Another great trek in Beaver Creek Park this time of year is to just meander around the meadows along Beaver Creek. Best time to do this is around dusk or just after dawn. There is a host of deer in the park these days and that time of day is the best time to view them. And the mascot of Beaver Creek Park, the beaver make themselves available for great viewing and even photos this time of year that time of day.
In some areas of Beaver Creek old historic foundations from Fort Assinniboine days appear as if by magic from those mountain meadows. And particularly in meadows around Camp Kiwanis remnants of bygone days can be seen clearly in the post leaf season.
Only a couple of cautions. Beaver Creek Park is a fee area so you will need a park use sticker. They are available at the camp office at Kiwanis. And even though there is no hunting allowed in Beaver Creek Park at all, still it might be a good idea to wear some hunter orange when tramping around the park.