What's an Ousel?
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An Ousel, often referred to as a Water Ouzel, is actually called an American Dipper. The scientific name is Cinclus Mexicanus.
The Ouzel can be found in mountainous and hilly regions where there is clear and fast-flowing streams across North America.
This bird has an excellent set of adaptions such as an extra layer of downy feathers, the ability to dive in fast rivers and streams, a protective inner eyelid, and the ability to walk and swim along the bottom of the river. It can use it's wings and it's tail to keep the pressure of the water down while it searches for insect larvae and other small animals that linger at the bottoms of streambeds.
The Ouzel is a slate gray color. It's beak is straight and fairly short, both it's tail and wings are short.
When on shore it has a custom, called "dipping", that distinguishes it from other birds that are by the streambed. It is a solitary bird and is rarely found in pairs when it is not breeding season. You would be lucky to see them in a group of three or four.
The bird's nest is made of ferns and moss. The nest itself is a beautiful piece of work. Their nests are commonly found under waterfalls or wet rock faces where they can't be reached. When the moss is hit with water it'll grow and help provide a nice place for the bird to construct a nest.
The Water Ouzel is the only songbird that's aquatic in North America. It has a beautiful song that has sweet sounding, flute-like notes that can have a hastly ending if it goes off to eat. Most of the time when it is done eating it will sing where it left off or skip a few notes.
Ousel Peak stands at 7,157 feet tall in the Great Bear Wilderness.
Most people would say "Oh yeah that mountain is easy since it has a trail all the way to the summit".
This beauteous peak has an elevation gain of approximately 3,910 feet and an 8 mile round-trip which is well worth doing because you won't have any better views of Glacier's southern boundary from any other mountain in the Great Bear Wilderness.
Ousel Peak is a great hike to do in the fall. The lookout on Ousel Peak was built in 1931 and was destroyed in 1957. There are no remains or evidence left of the lookout. The perspective and views from the top of this beautiful peak are incredible and very unique particularly of the Great Bear Wilderness and the Crown of the Continent, Glacier National Park.
To find Ousel Peak's trailhead, drive 6.5 miles east of West Glacier on Highway 2 between the mile markers 159 and 160.
The parking is located on the road's river side, so you have to access the trailhead you need to cross Highway 2.
Be cautious when crossing the highway. The highway curves at the trailhead site and motorists might not see any pedestrians crossing the road.
Red TapeOusel Peak is located in the Great Bear Wilderness.
This is bear country. So hike with bear spray and make lots of noise.
There are no motorized vehicles allowed on the trail for environmetal reasons. In other words when you enter the Great Bear Wilderness Boundary only walking and horseback are allowed.
Views are excellent of the Great Bear Wilderness and incredible views of Glacier National Park particularly of Mount Stimson, Mount Pinchot, and Mount Jackson.
This trail is brutal and starts out solid, but as you progress it becomes thinner. Accurately counted, the trail has 22 fallen trees to the summit. The year 2000 was believed to be the last time the trail had any work done on it by the Bob Marshall Foundation.
The trail meanders through larch, birch, fir, and alder, but finally starts breaking out to good views of the surrounding area. Eventually views of the summit will start appearing from the trail as well.
Mentioned before in this page the trail has an elevation gain of approximately 3,910 feet and a round-trip of 8 miles, but the views at the top are well worth all of the energy exertion.
The trail is steep all the way up and rocky in most places to the summit. To get back down to the vehicle descend the same way.
Camping and Essential Gear
The closest campground to the west is the Apgar Campground in Glacier National Park or there is the Devil Creek Campground, which located to the east and is further in distance than Apgar, but is an option if traveling east to west.
Hiking poles would be big help for the steep elevation and the rocky parts of the trail and bring water.