Jewel Basin is a gem of a hiking area in northwest Montana located between Kalispell and Hungry Horse Reservoir. It boasts 15000+ acres, abundant wildlife, 27 lakes and 35 miles of trails, most of which are open only to hikers.
Getting to the main access to the area (Camp Misery Trailhead) is a journey itself, heading from Echo Lake 7 miles up a sometimes steep and curvy dirt road (Jewel Basin Rd. #5392). From the trailhead, you can choose between dozens of desired destinations. Though there are signs at junctions marking trail numbers, a map is helpful along the trail.
From Camp Misery, it is about three miles to the edge of Birch lake via either trail #717 to #7 or trails #8 and #68 to #7. Trail #717 follows the outer edge of a mountain and provides an incredible view of the Flathead. Trails #8 and #68 travel through a more forested area and provide more shade on hot days.
With a gain of less than 1000′ in elevation and plenty of wildflowers to accompany the view, the trek to Birch Lake is a perfect, somewhat relaxed, partial day hike.
Once there, a 1.5 mile trail follows the edge of the lake where many spots can be found for picnics, fishing, watching for wildlife, swimming, making camp or just taking it all in. Whether this lake is your destination or just a stop along the way, it is exciting to know that it is just the beginning of what Jewel Basin has to offer.