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Wildlife Refuge

Kenai Nature Trail: A Visual Day Hike


Nestled in the little town of Stevensville, Montana is a cool nature reserve called Lee Metcalf. The Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1963 as a cover habitat for migratory birds. A series of impoundments and dikes were constructed for wildlife water management. Today, there are so many diverse habitats within the refuge. There are 37 species of mammals, 17 species of reptiles and over 235 different species of migratory birds. The Kenai Nature Trail is a lovely day hike of around 2.5 miles round trip, approximately a 1.5 hour day hike on level ground. The trail begins at the visitor center and heads north on a gravel trail through some riparian vegetation. Then as it opens, you will experience a chain of ponds and wetlands leading down a ways to the Bitterroot River. The reserve has benches and viewing platforms all during the hike. There are also photo blinds, and a spotting scope. In the ponds you will see muskrats, osprey, turtles, frogs, great blue herons, and bald eagles. Being in the Bitterroot valley, you are also privilege to take in the beautiful majestic Bitterroot Mountains and the rolling Sapphire Mountains (This whole area for miles and miles is loaded with hikes). As you walk along the path, you will cross over the ponds by wooden bridge into an observation blind on the edge of the pond.asas These bridges are scattered throughout the meandering hike. At any given moment, you may see the herds of elk and deer which flock the fields around there. These ponds are so interesting to stop and explore in. Children will want to seek out the little reptiles which have habitats in the ponds. As said, this is a family proactive activity, giving the little ones and even pets, room to move and play. Bring your picnic, binoculars, camera and fishing poles to one of the last best places. Newcomers will spend a lifetime discovering little gems like Lee Metcalf Refuge all throughout Montana State. While you are here, check out the little town of Stevensville. You will be surprised by the authentic Norman Rockwell feel of small town goodness. How to get there: Take highway 92 out of Missoula towards Stevensville. At the Stevensville turnoffs (Highway 269) take a left and continue only 1.3 mile towards Eastside Highway (Highway 203). Turns left, and go travel 0.2 miles to Wildfowl Lane. Turn left again. Drive 4 miles to the visitor center parking lot. If you are coming from Hamilton, then the Stevensville turnoff is approximately 19 miles north on Highway 93 going towards Missoula.