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Hiking in Northwest Montana

The best way to explore the natural splendor and spectacular beauty of the Flathead Valley and Glacier National Park is on foot.  Glacier National Park’s Going-to-the-Sun Road offers a 52-mile string of trailheads to more than 700 miles of hiking trails into pristine backcountry.

But that’s not all.  From nature trails to national and state forests, the Flathead Valley offers hiking options for every age and ability. Enjoy seeing snow-capped peaks, alpine lakes, lush forests, and a bounty of wildlife while you explore the great outdoors on your Flathead Valley hiking adventure.  Be sure to bring your camera – you’ll want to take memories of this majestic area home with you.

For starters, download the brochure “Hiking Montana’s Flathead Valley,” (284k) which describes a selection of easy hikes in Glacier National Park and the Flathead Valley.  Visit one of our local bookstores for a variety of books on hiking in Northwest Montana, from short strolls to overnight backpack trips.

Glacier National Park

Called the “Crown of the Continent,” Glacier National Park has 730 miles of highly scenic hiking trails with incredible views of the unparalleled natural beauty.  The trails vary in difficulty from flat and easy to steep and challenging, and people of any ability can find trails to enjoy.  Some are wheelchair-accessible.  Short nature walks, longer trails to scenic overlooks, and trails heading deep into the backcountry offer many ways to explore the park’s amazing beauty.  A variety of wildlife can be viewed from the trail, including moose, elk, mule deer, mountain goats, black bears, grizzly bears, and bighorn sheep.  By mid-June, hikes at lower elevations are usually free of snow.  At higher elevations, trails are snow-free by late July.

Flathead National Forest

Towering peaks and alpine meadows, wild and scenic rivers, the Hungry Horse Reservoir, lakes and streams… all can be found in the 2.3 million acres of the Flathead National Forest.  Bordered by Glacier National Park and three other national forests, Flathead National Forest has 2,600 miles of hiking trails and 200 miles of National Recreation Trails, mostly in designated wilderness areas.  Flathead National Forest stretches along the west side of the Continental Divide, running south of the U.S.-Canada border for about 120 miles.  Nearly half of the Flathead National Forest is designated wilderness and is home to wolves, peregrine falcons, bald eagles and grizzly bears.

Jewel Basin

Flathead National Forest’s Jewel Basin is a 15,000-acre mountainous area maintained exclusively for hiking and camping.  Motorized vehicles and horses are restricted.  Jewel Basin includes 27 lakes and 35 miles of trails, and is located in the Swan Mountain Range east of Kalispell and west of the Hungry Horse Reservoir.  Peak season is generally in July and August.  High lakes may still have ice and trails can be snow-covered until July.  Use of Jewel Basin is limited during the winter.

Danny On Memorial Trail

This popular trail in the Whitefish Mountain Resort Ski Area is named after Danny On, a silvaculturist (applied forest ecologist) with the United States Forest Service who died in a skiing accident on Big Mountain in 1979.  A conservationist, he also excelled in nature photography.  This self-guided trail gives hikers an opportunity to observe and learn about plants and animals of the high country.  The trail system on the mountain offers four different routes to the summit.  Information about On’s life is available in the Environmental Education Center at the summit.  Snow usually remains on the upper sections of the trail until mid-July.

Hiking related businesses

Hidden Lake Overlook
Gateway to Glacier National Park
Flathead Lake
About the Flathead Valley

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