Stevensville to Hamilton
The views of the Bitterroot and Sapphire Mountains continue to inspire along the 20 miles or so from Stevensville to Hamilton, with the small towns of Victor and Corvallis along the way. The pines and snow-covered peaks don’t exactly evoke wine country, but the Hidden Legend Winery in Victor sells bottles of sweet and punchy meads made with local fruits and honey. In winter, the Teller Wildlife Refuge just outside of Corvallis teems with ducks, coots, and even tundra swans making the most of the free-flowing Bitterroot River.
Hamilton (pop. nearly 5,000), has restaurants, shopping, and activities befitting the “big town” of the valley. If you’ve somehow made it this far without getting full, consider a burger with kimchi slaw at Bouilla or a classic Montana meat pie at the MineShaft Pasty Company. The Ravalli County Museum houses a collection of pioneer-era farm tools, clothes, and artwork as well as artifacts from Salish, Nez Perce, and Kootenai tribes.
If you have the urge to get closer to the mountains, the Blodgett Canyon Trail outside of town will take you past a tumbling, icy creek and sheer granite rock faces with only minimal elevation gain. On most winter days, you can walk miles on the packed trail without snowshoes. Lake Como, a beautiful mountain lake south of town that hums with activity in warm months, becomes a quiet spot that cross-country skiers pass in winter.