During this time of year, fresh snow blankets the landscapes, mountains and valleys of Kalispell, the hub of northwest Montana, creating a winter wonderland for all sorts of activities. When it comes to family activities, there are several things to do in and around Kalispell, including snowshoeing.
Before hitting the trail, there are a few things to keep in mind to have the best family snowshoe adventure this winter.
Get the Gear
The key to a great snowshoe experience is to be prepared, starting with the appropriate gear. Here’s what should be on your list: boots, snowshoes, moisture-wicking layers (socks, long johns, base layers, etc.), snow pants, hat, gloves, waterproof or water-resistant jacket, a daypack, sunscreen and sunglasses. Be sure to pack water, snacks, warm drinks and food in your daypack. Want to learn more? Get the full rundown from REI here.
Hit the Trail
There are numerous places to snowshoe in and around Kalispell and northwest Montana. Family-friendly trails of note include:
1) Lone Pine State Park
With a bird’s-eye view of Montana’s Flathead Valley, Lone Pine has a few easy trails that are perfect for family snowshoe adventures. Start slow on White Memorial Loop, a .6-mile-long round-trip trail that makes it easy to see Flathead Lake, Jewel Basin, the peaks of Glacier National Park and Big Mountain, home to Whitefish Mountain Resort.
For a longer trek, enjoy the 2.8-mile round-trip Lone Pine Trail. A more challenging trail with steep grades, this route leads through a forest that’s home to fur, spruce and pine trees. See more trails here.
2) Glacier National Park
Easy to access, Lower McDonald Creek is a scenic 2 to 3 mile round-trip trail that starts near McDonald Creek Bridge in Apgar. With easy terrain and a sweet view of McDonald Creek, this trail is perfect for a morning snowshoe.
Venture up the Going-to-the-Sun Road to Lake McDonald Lodge and park your vehicle in the parking area. Step into your snowshoes and set out on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, taking in the sights and sounds along the way. For more of an adventure, snowshoe up to the head of Lake McDonald and take the trail to McDonald Falls. Want more? Dig into more trails and routes in Glacier National Park.
3) Herron Park
A short drive from Lone Pine State Park will take you to Herron Park and its robust trails system. Ideal for all ages, Family Trail is an easy elevation 2-mile round-trip route that’s great for family outings. From the Family Trail, you can connect to other trails, including Overlook Trail and Plum Creek Road.
For a loop route, set out on the Notch Trail and connect with the Overlook Trail and Plum Creek Road. At around 4 miles round-trip, this route has views of Foy Lake and the expansive Flathead Valley.
4) Blacktail Nordic Ski Trails
A scenic drive along Flathead Lake will take you to Lakeside and Blacktail Mountain Ski Area. From the Blacktail Nordic Ski Trails upper parking area, you’ll be greeted with groomed trails that are shared by Nordic skiers and snowshoers. The Main Trail is a great starting place for families of all ages. See the full trail map here.
There are harder routes in and around Kalispell and Glacier National Park; if you decide to tackle more difficult trails – including areas where avalanche risk is high – be sure you are well-versed and aware of how to responsibly recreate. A few things to note: most winter trails are not marked clearly – pack a map; stay off lakes, rivers and streams; and be aware of wildlife. Our friends at Glacier National Park have more tips, insights and advice here.
While it’s easy to hit the trails on your own, there are also guides who – in addition to taking you snowshoeing – can share insights and interpretation along the way. Workshops are available at Lone Pine State Park, while the National Park Service offers ranger-led weekend snowshoe walks in Glacier National Park from December 23, 2023 to March 17, 2024. Glacier Institute also has a variety of winter-focused adventures, including full moon snowshoes, winter snowshoes and winter tracking.
Ready to explore more of winter in Montana? Check out the following pages: