By SILKE JAUCK
Windswept and seemingly barren, Waterworks Hill only reveals its charm when one is actually stepping foot on it.
This time of the year, it is especially rewarding and I recommend this as an easy walk for people new to Missoula. One reason is the magnificent views of Missoula and its surrounding mountains, even on a rainy or overcast day.
Taking in the lush and green valley and mountain slopes, with the snow capped Bitterroot peaks shining bright in the distance, it’s hard to image the dry August landscape.
And, wildflower lovers like me find Waterworks Hill a little paradise and reminds me of alpine meadows I have seen in other parts of the world. It is within walking or biking distance from downtown Missoula.
Also, Waterworks Hill is probably the closest place to see such a variety of native flowers like Bitterroots, Lupines, Mountain Bluebells, and Phlox. It’s also a good idea to take a Rocky Mountain wildflower guide with you. Don’t forget your camera as there are plenty of photo opportunities.
Yes, since this is Montana, there are also noxious weeds such as mustard and knapweed. The grazing sheep seem to work hard on eating leafy spurge and other invasive species.
People can bring their dogs on Waterworks Hill, but because of the sheep, dogs must be leashed. But in true Missoula fashion, the parking lot is even equipped with a post with provided rental leashes. Missoula still amazes me!
Waterworks Hill is also home to birds including Red Robins, Western Bluebirds, and Western Meadowlarks, so pack your binoculars. This conveniently-located hill is the perfect spot for a short and easy walk with rewarding views.
For walkers with more time and motivation there is a well-marked trail system leading to Cherry Gulch and the Randolph Homestead.
Silke Jauck is a German native and Missoulian by choice. She and her family have packed and unpacked their suitcases and moving boxes in four continents and have finally settled in Missoula and called it home.
She lives with her husband, three daughters, and a dwarf rabbit in the Target Range neighborhood. Silke is the publisher of Friendship Book, a made-in-Montana keepsake and activity book for children ages 6-12. She also has a blog about life hacks at Silke Good Ideas, and you can visit her Make it Missoula blog archive.