For traveling by foot, by horse, by (mountain) bike,
by cross-country ski.
Rails to Trails of Northwest Montana, a grassroots nonprofit, has paved more than 10 miles of the Great Northern Rail Trail around Kalispell, from the town of Somers on the north shore of Flathead Lake west to Kila bordering the Smith Lake Waterfowl Production Area, much of which is built on former Great Northern Railroad beds. Perfect for walking or biking.
Here are some more ideas to get your move on:
Lone Pine State Park — More than 6 miles of hiking/biking trails, from well surfaced to steep single track, topped off by a terrific Visitor Center and fantastic bird’s eye views of the entire valley.
Herron Park / Foy’s to Blacktail Trails — Less than 10 minutes from Kalispell, Herron is a mountain bikers’ / hikers’ / cross-country skiers’ gateway to a vast trail system through timberlands extending south toward Blacktail Mountain.
Pig Farm-Farm to Market Road area — An elaborate network of fat tire single track through woods and meadows, easy enough for casual day-trippers but able to throw down the gauntlet to weekend warriors. There aren’t trail markers, so bring a healthy sense of direction — or your GPS. Directions: From Kalispell head north on U.S. 93. Turn left (west) on West Reserve. Go four miles to Farm to Market Road and turn right (north). The area known by locals as the “Pig Farm” is about 7 miles north a little way past Farm to Market Pork. The unsigned parking area will be on your left across from the Ray Kuhn Wildlife Reserve which is signed.
Jewel Basin — Only a half hour from downtown Kalispell but miles away from civilization. A day hiker’s paradise, the Jewel’s 25 lakes stud its 35-mile, well-marked trail system. Mount Aeneas, its highest point, can be tackled in a day, 8 miles round-trip. Download an area trail map.
Swan River Nature Trail — Bigfork’s 2-mile long gravel trail looks down upon the Wild Mile of the Swan River. Head into town from Montana 35 on Grand Drive and go past Electric Avenue and the Bigfork Inn. The trailhead’s at the top of the short hill.
Whitefish Trail — 12 unpaved miles looping from Lion Mountain trailhead to Beaver Lake and beyond. Another 5 miles of new trail is slated to be added this year. Directions: Access via Lion Mountain Loop Road off U.S. 93 miles 1.2 miles north of Whitefish. Download a PDF trail map.
Fish Trails — 12 miles of pedestrian/bike paths around Whitefish. Access from Edgewood off Wisconsin Avenue after crossing over the BN viaduct.
Spencer Mountain — About 15 miles of established trails for bikers, hikers, and horseback riders, taking off from Spencer Lake four miles north of Whitefish at Twin Bridges Road.
Big Mountain Road — A road biker’s nemesis and heaven, rolled into one. About five miles and 1,500 vertical feet of up, rewarded with five miles of down.
Whitefish Mountain Resort — Danny On Memorial Trail provides dramatic panoramas leading to the 7,000 ft summit of Big Mountain. Choose from routes 3 to 6 miles in length. Ride the gondola or chairlift up and hike down or hoof it up the mountain and reward yourself with a cold drink a the Summit House before heading down. Hang your mountain bike on the lift and sashay up “the Big” to free ride over 20 miles of cross country trails from the superbly scenic Summit Trail to the Runaway Train.
Glacier National Park — Named the best place to backpack in the U.S. Beautiful trails, jaw-dropping views around every corner, glaciers that twinkle on distant peaks, dramatic waterfalls and rare wildlife all await. Our top five hikes include the wheelchair accessible Trail of the Cedars, Avalanche Lake, Hidden Lake, the Highline Trail and the dramatic Dawson-Pitamakan Loop.
Going to the Sun Road, Glacier National Park — The hale and hearty bicyclists that head up this famed highway are awarded not only for the spectacular scenery but with kudos for conquering the 3,500-foot elevation gain from Lake McDonald to Logan Pass. Distance from the park’s west entrance is 32 miles. Make sure your brakes are in optimal shape for the return trip. Or just head up the road as far as your legs carry you. The first half is fairly flat. Restrictions apply.
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