Now is the time to pick huckleberries

It’s late July and it’s prime huckleberry season.

On July 22, I literally ran up the Danny On trail at Whitefish Mountain Resort on my lunch break specifically to scope out huckleberries at all elevations. My scouting and conversations around town have resulted in this statement: The huckleberries are out.

They are ripe for the picking but no elevation or location is “the spot” more than another. Just get out there, venture into the woods and you are bound to get into a patch of huckleberries. They may not be the biggest or the best you’ve ever seen, but they may be all we get this season.
Last week, my wife, two kids and I spent Sunday afternoon on a focused picking mission. She’s an absolute gatherer and gets into a huckleberry-picking zone with a mind-set like a base jumper about to leap off El Capitan. She can’t be distracted and hunkers down into a picking mode that can last for hours.

On this recent mission we picked huckleberries at about 4,000 feet in elevation in a secret spot on Big Mountain we know well. Typically, we can go into this zone early in the year and load up on a stash of huckleberries that sends us into August with a freezer full of gallon bags.
So far, that has not been the case this year.

My personal reconnaissance and questioning around town has resulted in the knowledge that the huckleberries are sporadic. On my run up the Danny On I saw single hikers with jugs partially full just above the village at 5,200 feet. Then, just before the summit I ran into a group of pickers just below 6,800 feet in what appeared to be a hot spot of berries.

Big Mountain is known for easy access and great berries. The Danny On hiking trail combined with the scenic lift are a great way to access prime berry picking locations.

Check the Whitefish Mountain Resort Trail report at http://skiwhitefish.com/summer/trail-report/ for up-to-date huckleberry information. The ski patrollers in the winter might know the best powder stashes but the summer bike patrollers are the ones to ask about huckleberries.

The berries are out, but this season is going to come and go quick. The time to pick is now. Get out there, go to your favorite spot, go to an unknown location, whatever you do – go pick now!

Local’s Tip: You’re going to need two hands to pick if you get into a good huckleberry patch. In preparation, cut the top off a milk jug and duct tape a piece of string to it to create an easy place to put your berries. I like to carry mine around my neck and around one arm like a purse to avoid spilling and to give me an easy spot to put the berries when I find myself in the “zone.”

— Jason Forrest / This Week Whitefish

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