The Jewel Basin Hiking Area was set aside as an easily reached wilderness-like area. There are 35 miles of trails that make day-hike loops or longer backpack trips.
To get there from Bigfork , take Echo Lake Road off Highway 83. (It can also be reached from the west side of Hungry Horse Reservoir .) Pick up an extremely helpful map at Forest Service offices in Bigfork, Hungry Horse, or Kalispell .
Hikes take you through wildflower meadows and thickets of subalpine fir. Climbing in from the west, you’ll first have expansive views of the Flathead Valley and Lake, then pass over a ridge and realize that Jewel Basin is indeed a basin. It’s hard to say which are the jewels—the lakes that stud the basin or the Indian paintbrush, bear grass, fireweed, and showy daisies strewn throughout the meadows. Some of the lakes are stocked with trout.