Holzworth Meadows Hiking Route
The Holzworth Meadows route leads hikers through a bowl of subalpine meadows onto an alpine ridge, followed by the opportunity for rambling up a series of alpine summits. There are expansive views of the surrounding mountain ranges. Mount Crum to the northwest, with a large anticline on its slopes, and Sentinel Peak to the west, with a glacier on its eastern flank, dominate the skyline.
The moist meadows through which the trail passes are a blaze of colour in summer. Arctic Lupine, Mountain Monkshood, Subalpine Buttercup, Tall Larkspur, Tall Bluebell, Indian Paintbrush, White Bog-orchid and many other species fill this lush environment in between forests of Engelmann Spruce and Subalpine Fir.
Higher up, on the exposed summit ridges, species flourish that can tolerate the dry, windswept environment. The short flowering season makes a mid to late July trip the most rewarding for the lover of alpine flowers. Moss Campion, Langsdorf’s Lousewort, Mountain Harebell, Stoloniferous Saxifrage, and a variety of aster, arnica and daisy species are commonly encountered.
John Holzworth was an explorer, lawyer and author sent to this region in 1923 by the U.S. Biological Survey. He was 35 years old at the time, and the purpose of the expedition was to investigate the distribution of mountain sheep and caribou. He described hunting by the small lake which is situated a kilometre west of the trailhead, and which is visible from the mountain summits along the hiking route. He wrote enthusiastically in his journal:
For sheer joy and contentment, I know of nothing like this; a hundred miles or two from any civilisation and no human being within miles… the spell of the mountains.
The Holzworth Meadows hiking route provides a good opportunity to look for two ptarmigan species, both of which breed here. The slightly larger Willow Ptarmigan tends to inhabit the lusher environment of the subalpine meadows, while the White-tailed Ptarmigan tends to occupy the highest, most exposed terrain on the ridge tops and summits.
In flight the white outer tail feathers that give the White-tailed Ptarmigan its name make it easy to identify. Regardless of season, these birds are superbly camouflaged. Please tread carefully: the peak hiking season coincides with when these birds are raising their young who tend to scurry away rather than fly off.