Glacier National Park is routinely rated as the ultimate hiker’s park. With more than 730 miles of trails and stunning scenery it’s easy to see why. Still, Glacier isn’t the only place to hike. The Jewel Basin is a locals’ favorite on the east side of Flathead Lake. Further south, you can rent a boat and head out to Wildhorse Island for a hike and views you won’t soon forget. Or, head west and discover the Cabinet Mountains. Point is, you pick your direction and let your wanderlust and feet take over.
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK
Glacier National Park has been named as 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.
Let Glacier Guides Montana Raft guide you through Glacier National Park! If you choose to go on your own here are a few suggestions for easy and moderate hikes.
FLATHEAD NATIONAL FOREST
The 2.4 million acres of the Flathead National Forest surrounding Kalispell offers abundant outdoor recreation on trails, campsites, and rivers and lakes, including the Bob Marshall Wilderness, Jewel Basin Recreation Area, and the Wild & Scenic three forks of the Flathead River. Learn more about hiking trails, camping and other multi-use areas at Flathead National Forest.
The Jewel Basin is only a half hour or so 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. One of many hikes in ‘The Jewel”, Mount Aeneas is the highest point and can be tackled in a day — 8 miles round-trip. Birch Lake at 6.8 miles round trip, is a three acre lake set in a small valley with views of four mountain ranges. Download a PDF hiking map of the Jewel Basin.
Stanton Lake although appropriate for all skill levels, the first half mile does have a steep incline. This is a pretty, uncrowded lake with many tails leading from the main trail to various beaches on the lake. Enjoy expansive views of Glacier National Park and the Great Bear Wilderness and at the end of the lake there is a small island you can swim out to. 3-4 miles round trip, Hungry Horse Ranger District.
Lion Lake Trail starts at the Lion Lake Picnic Area south of Hungry Horse. The trail follows the east shore of the lake and includes gentle and rolling terrain through the woods with views of the lake. 1 mile round trip, Hungry Horse Ranger District
OTHER RECREATION AREAS
Lone Pine State Park is the biggest little park in Northwest Montana. Just six miles from town are six miles of developed trail where hikers and mountain bikers can choose from steady and steep to easy cruises through wooded terrain. You’ll find fantastic views at the top and a Visitor Center with full-service restrooms, drinking fountains and a gift shop; along with a wheelchair accessible interpretive loop. 406-752-5501. Lone Pine, a Montana State Park
Herron Park’s single track mountain bike and hiking paths break away into the Foy’s to Blacktail Trails Project, an ambitious and extensive trail system linking to the Forest Service lands surrounding Blacktail Mountain.
Danny On Memorial Trail — Dramatic panoramas unfold along this trail that leads to the 7,000 summit of Big Mountain at Whitefish Mountain Resort. Choose from routes 3 to 6 miles in length. Ride the gondola or chairlift up and hike down to the Village, or hoof it up the mountain and reward yourself with a cold drink at the Summit House before taking a ride back down.
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 keep going straight past Electric Avenue and the Bigfork Inn. The trailhead’s at the top of the short hill.
Learn more about these and other trails at Hike Montana Wild, provided by the Montana Wilderness Association.