Hiking around Flathead Lake

Hiking

Hiking around Flathead LakeThere are many quality hiking very close to Montana’s Flathead Lake.  The views from these hikes around Flathead Lake are both beautiful and vast.  Hiking is a great way to explore the area while experiencing nature and wildlife. We have created a list of trails you may enjoy.  The list of trails when hiking Flathead Lake can be found below.

Each trail offers an adventure into the vast openness of untouched country and environment.

First things first, when hiking around Flathead lake you should be sure to carry bear spray.  Be sure to carry it with your finger in the hole, and your thumb on the safety.  Really, be safe, carry bear spray.  With that said there are ample hiking opportunities around Flathead Lake.

Flathead Lake Hikes

Get your  150+ page Flathead Lake trail guide. or visit the website: GoHikeWithMike.com

Hiking Trail: Crane Mountain Trail #314

Of the three trails on this page, this trail is best if you are looking for aerial views of Flathead Lake. The Crane Mountain trail is 2.1 miles long (total of 3.5 miles from trailhead) and climbs about 330 feet. It begins at the junction with the Beardance Trail #76 and ends at the junction with Road #10218 near Crane Mtn Rd. From the Beardance trailhead this is one of three trails that climb up Crane Mountain. This lesser known trail starts winding up a few switchbacks through a larch/pine forest with thick undergrowth. It then straightens out and parallels Crane Creek to an old road bed. Turning left, follow the level road out to the upper trailhead. The trail is open for the following uses: hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking.

From Bigfork, go south on Highway 35 past Woods Bay and turn right after mile marker 23, entering the Beardance trail head parking. The trailhead is on the east side of the highway.

Hiking Trail: Noisy Creek Trail #8

The Noisy Creek trail is 1.9 miles long and climbs 850 feet. It begins at the end of Jewel Basin Road #5392 and ends at the junction with Alpine Trail #7. This is one of many accesses to the Jewel Basin Hiking Area. The trail is open primarily for the following uses: Hiking. Other uses are allowed, but not recommended, up to the Hiking Area boundary.

From Bigfork, go north on Highway 35 for 2.3 miles and turn right onto Hwy 83. Stay on Hwy. 83 for 2.8 miles and turn left onto Echo Lake Road. After 2.2 miles, turn slightly right onto the Foothills Road. After 1.1 miles, turn right onto Rd. # 5392, following the Jewel Basin Road signs. The trailhead is 6.6 miles at the end of the road. Trail #8 starts at parking lot see information boards to make sure you are starting on the right trail as there are several that leave the parking lot.

It doesn’t matter if you are a novice hiker or you love a challenge: Jewel Basin has a hike for you. You’ll discover 15,349 acres of wilderness, 27 lakes and nearly 50 miles of hike-only trails.

The Jewel Basin is located just outside of Bigfork in the Flathead National Forest. To access the trailhead from Bigfork, take Hwy 35 north to Hwy 83.  Head east on Hwy 83 to the junction of the Echo Lake Road. Head north on Echo Lake Road about 3 miles to junction with the Jewel Basin Road (No. 5392).  Follow this road approx. 7 miles to the trailhead.

Hiking Trail: Crater Notch Trail #187

The Crater Notch Trail is 3.7 miles long and climbs about 3,000 feet. It begins 1/2 mile up the Echo-Brokenleg Trail #544 and ends at the Alpine Trail #7 leading to In-thlam-keh Lake. The trail is open for the following uses for the first 2.7 miles: hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking. After 3.5 miles the trail enters the Jewel Basin Hiking Area where the only allowed use is hiking. Please respect these guidelines.

From Bigfork, go north on Highway 35 for 2.3 miles and turn right onto Hwy. 83. Stay on 83 for 2.8 miles, turning left onto Echo Lake Rd. After 2.2 miles, merge slightly right onto the Foothills Road. After 1.1 miles turn right onto Road #5392 also called Jewel Basin Rd. The trailhead is about two miles up the road on the right.

FLATHEAD LAKE TRAIL GUIDE

Hiking in MontanaThe Go Hike with Mike trail guide contains most every trail head in the Flathead and Kootenai Forest as well as the Mission Mountain Tribal Wilderness.  Click here to purchase your copy.

Flathead Lake Trail Guide

Our Flathead Lake Trail Guide provides information about camping & hiking around Flathead Lake.   Mike has been hiking, wandering, hunting and spending time in these woods for more then 20 years.  The Go Hike with Mike Trail Guide contains most every trail head around Flathead Lake.  The guide includes trails as far north as Polebridge.  It also contains the Hungry Horse recreation area, the Swan Front and Swan Valley to the east.  To the north the guide contains trail head and campground information around Tally Lake.

Hiking Around Flathead Lake

Purchase the GHWM Trail GuideMike receives countless inquires about good trails and camping spots around Flathead Lake.  There is clearly a need for more detailed information about hiking around Flathead Lake.  The trail guide contains the trails Mike would like to recommend to you during your visit to northwest Montana.

The trail guide is focused on trails, camping and being in the woods.  Mike’s Trail Guide breaks the area in four easy to use sections.  North of Flathead lake, including The Talley Lake area and due north to Polebridge. East of Flathead Lake, including the Swan Front, Swan Valley, and on into the Hungry Horse recreation area.  West of Flathead Lake, including the Kootenai National Forest.  The guide contains most every trail Mike has hiked in the last 20 years or plans to hike in the next 20 years.

Flathead Lake Trail Guide

Click here to purchase your copy.

Don’t need the hiking guide, just some basic trail information, do not fret.  Mike has included some beginner to medium hikes on this website.  Depending on were you as staying there is most likely a trail head near you. Thanks for visiting, hope to see you on the trail.

Hiking Trails: Camp Misery Trail

Trail Guide

Hiking Trail: Camp Misery Trail #68

The Camp Misery trail is 0.8 miles long. It begins at the junction with Noisy Creek Trail #8 and ends at the junction with Alpine Trail #7 and provides one of the many accesses into the Jewel Basin Hiking Area. The trail is primarily open for the following uses: Hiking.

Usage is typically light, closest town is Bigfork
Directions:
From Bigfork, go North on Highway 35 for 2.3 miles and turn right onto Highway 83. Stay on 83 for 2.8 miles and turn left onto Echo Lake Rd. After 2.2 miles, turn slightly right onto Foothill Rd. Continue for 1.1 miles and bear slight right following the Jewel Basin sign onto Road #5392. Continue 6.6 miles to the end of the road for the trailhead.

Location

Area/Length : 0.8 miles
Elevation : 5,750 feet – 7,530 feet

190 pages packed with trailheads, camping spots, and local information around Flathead Lake.

Don’t need the hiking guide, just some basic trail information, do not fret.  Mike has included some beginner to medium hikes on this website.  Depending on were you as staying there is most likely a trail head near you. Thanks for visiting, hope to see you on the trail.
The trail guide is focused on trails, camping and being in the woods.  Mike’s Flathead Lake Trail Guide breaks the area in five easy to use sections.  North of Flathead lake, including The Talley Lake area and due north to Polebridge. East of Flathead Lake, including the Swan Front, Swan Valley, and on into the Hungry Horse recreation area.  The guide contains most every trail Mike has hiked in the last 20 years or plans to hike in the next 20 years.

Hiking Trails: Phillips Trail

Trail Guide

Hiking Trail: Phillips Trail #373

The Phillips Trail #373 is 3.8 miles long and climbs about 600 feet; it intersects with Crane Mtn Road #498 and the Beardance Trail #76. This is one of three trails that climb up Crane Mountain. Access by car from Crane Mountain is available 4/1-11/30, otherwise hikers must access from the Flathead Lake side at the Beardance trailhead (4.4 miles up). The trail is open for the following uses: hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking.

Trail Map and Directions

Usage is typically light, closest town is Bigfork
General Information
Directions:
Crane Mtn Access: From Bigfork go south on Highway 35 for 0.7 miles, turning left onto Hwy 209. Stay on 209 for 3 miles, then turn right at the light onto South Ferndale Rd. After 2 miles merge right onto Crane Mountain Rd also called Forest Service Road #498. The trail is 3 miles up on the west side of the road.

Flathead Lake Access: From Bigfork follow Highway 35 south, past Woods Bay, to the Beardance Picnic Area south of mile marker 23. The trailhead is on the east side of the highway, across from the parking lot.

Location

Area/Length : 3.8 miles
Elevation : 3,440 feet – 4,039 feet

190 pages packed with trailheads, camping spots, and local information around Flathead Lake.

Don’t need the hiking guide, just some basic trail information, do not fret.  Mike has included some beginner to medium hikes on this website.  Depending on were you as staying there is most likely a trail head near you. Thanks for visiting, hope to see you on the trail.
The trail guide is focused on trails, camping and being in the woods.  Mike’s Flathead Lake Trail Guide breaks the area in five easy to use sections.  North of Flathead lake, including The Talley Lake area and due north to Polebridge. East of Flathead Lake, including the Swan Front, Swan Valley, and on into the Hungry Horse recreation area.  The guide contains most every trail Mike has hiked in the last 20 years or plans to hike in the next 20 years.

Hiking Trail: Broken Leg Divide Trail #353

Trail Guide

Hiking Trail: Broken Leg Divide Trail #353

The Broken Leg Divide trail is 2.8 miles long climbs about 520 feet. It begins at the junction with the Peterson Creek Trail #293 and ends at the junction with Echo-Brokenleg trail #544. The trail is open to: hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking.

Usage is typically light, closest town is Bigfork.

Directions:
From Bigfork, go North on Highway 35 for 2.3 miles and turn right onto Highway 83. Stay on 83 for 2.8 miles and turn left onto Echo Lake Rd. After 2.2 miles, turn slightly right onto Foothill Rd. Continue for 1.1 miles and bear slight right following the Jewel Basin sign on to road 5392.

The trailhead is 1.8 miles up road 5392 on the right.

190 pages packed with trailheads, camping spots, and local information around Flathead Lake.

Don’t need the hiking guide, just some basic trail information, do not fret.  Mike has included some beginner to medium hikes on this website.  Depending on were you as staying there is most likely a trail head near you. Thanks for visiting, hope to see you on the trail.
The trail guide is focused on trails, camping and being in the woods.  Mike’s Flathead Lake Trail Guide breaks the area in five easy to use sections.  North of Flathead lake, including The Talley Lake area and due north to Polebridge. East of Flathead Lake, including the Swan Front, Swan Valley, and on into the Hungry Horse recreation area.  The guide contains most every trail Mike has hiked in the last 20 years or plans to hike in the next 20 years.

Bigfork Montana

Bigfork is a year-round resort village of about 1500 residents built on a western art theme.  It contains many art galleries, fine restaurants, golf, boutiques, and live theater.  Bigfork is located on Flathead Lake with ample public access to fishing, boating and hiking opportunities.

Bigfork MontanaThe Bigfork Summer Playhouse is a fine theater operating Monday through Saturday during the summer season and is worth a visit while in Bigfork.

Bigfork has been listed in the following publications: The 50 Great Towns in the West, 100 Best Small Art Towns, The Great Towns of America, and National Geographic Guide to Small Towns Escapes. Chosen by Sunset Magazine as one of the most picturesque towns in the Northwest

Bigfork Montana is home to Eagle Bend Golf Club, a 27-hole championship course and Montana’s only golf course to be rated #1 by Golf Digest for six consecutive years.  Eagle Bend has also consistently ranked top 50 in the United States.  The original 18 holes were designed and built by William Hull and later, in the mid-nineties “Nicklaus Design” designed and built the “Nicklaus Nine” to standards worthy of  the Nicklaus reputation.  Eagle Bend is a semi-private Club offering all of the facilities you would expect including sculpted fairways, excellent greens, practice facility and a full service restaurant and lounge.

Bigfork Montana Trails

Trails closest to Bigfork: Beardance Trail #76 ,  Broken Leg Divide Trail #353 ,  Camp Misery Trail #68 ,  Crane Mountain Trail #314 ,  Crater Notch Trail #187 ,  Echo Broken Leg #544 ,  Estes Lake Trail #96 Flathead Lake Interpretive Trail #77 ,  Noisy Creek Trail #8 ,  Peters Ridge Trail #37 ,  Peterson Creek Trail #293 ,  Phillips Trail #373 ,  South Lost Creek Trail #86 ,  Strawberry Lake Trail #5 ,  Switchback Trail #725

Hikes around Flathead Lake

Hikes around Flathead Lake

Hikes around Flathead Lake:

Hikes around Flathead Lake. There are many hikes around Flathead lake. Here are a couple easily accessible hikes. The Flathead Lake Trail is by far the easiest hike. It is a short half mile loop interpretive trail hike. The short but steep distance down to excellent view of Flathead Lake and the western skyline. This trail was developed in partnership with the Bigfork High School.

Directions: From Bigfork, go south on Highway 35 past Woods Bay, and turn right after mile marker 23, entering the Beardance trailhead parking. The trail goes downhill from both parking areas, creating a loop.

If you are looking for something a bit more difficult, cross the road to the Bear Dance Trail. The Bear Dance trail and the Flathead Lake Trail share the same parking lot.

Hikes around Flathead Lake

BEARDANCE TRAIL #76

The Beardance Trail is 6.7 miles long and climbs about 2,200 feet. It begins off of Highway # 35 from the Beardance Trailhead and follows Forest Road #10222 and terminates at Crane Mountain Road #498. This trail has been re-routed in the last year and no longer follows the old Forest Service Road #9755. The trail is open to: hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking.

Usage: Heavy | Closest Towns: Bigfork
Directions: From Bigfork go south on Highway 35 past Woods Bay and turn right after mile marker 23, entering the Beardance trailhead parking. The trailhead is on the east side of the highway.
Season: These trails are typically snow free by April.
Regulations: Hiking, horse riding and mountain biking are allowed on these trails. Motorized vehicles, including motorcycles are prohibited.

Area/Length : 6.7 miles
Latitude : 47.95678
Longitude : -114.03442
Elevation : 3,071 feet – 5,309 feet

Beardance Area: Trails #76, 373, and 314

Directions: From Bigfork go south on Highway 35 past Woods Bay and turn right after mile marker 23, entering the Beardance trailhead parking. The trailhead is on the east side of the highway.

Trail Description:
The Phillips Trail 373 leaves from the Beardance parking lot and climbs moderately, enjoy a nice viewpoint of Flathead Lake, then continues to climb through the trees and finally crosses two creeks and then descends to the road.

The Crane Mountain Trail 314 climbs up switchbacks in the shade of a dense forest and follows Crane Creek up to the junction with an old road. Once you reach the old road, the grade levels off for an easy hike to the upper trailhead.

The Beardance Trail 76 starts climbing up switchbacks then continue to climb up through a forested area to the trailhead on Crane Mountain Rd.

The Go Hike with Mike trail guide contains most every trail head in the Flathead and Kootenai Forest as well as the Mission Mountain Tribal Wilderness, including this campground.  Click here to purchase your copy.

Pablo Wildlife Refuge

Pablo Wildlife Refuge

Mirror on Pablo ReservoirPablo Wildlife Refuge is located on tribal trust lands of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. It is superimposed on the irrigation reservoir managed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs Flathead Irrigation Project.

Pablo Wildlife Refuge is 2,500 acres of water, marsh, and upland grassland. The refuge provides nesting and resting areas for migratory birds and other wildlife.

Shaped by glacial activity approximately 12,000 years ago, the terrain surrounding Pablo NWR is rolling and interspersed with many pothole wetlands.

Visitor Opportunities 

Fishing is permitted on Pablo NWR in accordance with applicable State, Federal, and Tribal regulations. Yellow perch and largemouth bass are caught at Pablo NWR. Ice fishing is permitted after the waterfowl hunting season has ended and the refuge reopens.

Pablo Wildlife RefugePhotography and wildlife observation are encouraged. Waterfowl numbers vary throughout the year. There may be as many as 80,000 in October and November, and half that number in late March and through early May. A few ducks and geese may spend the winter. Nesting begins in late March and lasts through July. The most numerous nesting species are Canada geese, mallards, and redheads. Pintail, American widgeon, shoveler, blue and green-winged teal, ruddy duck, gadwall, common merganser, and coot are also present. Other species of water, marsh, and upland birds are abundant from May to October. Common loons are occasionally seen and this is a good area to see Bald Eagles.

Common mammals on these refuges are the field mouse or meadow vole, muskrat, and striped skunk. Mink, badgers, and porcupines have also been observed.

Management Programs 

Although water levels are controlled primarily for irrigation and flood control, the Fish and Wildlife Service works closely with the Flathead Irrigation Project to insure that water levels are properly maintained to accommodate nesting waterfowl. A portion of the refuge is closed each spring to minimize disturbance in nesting areas, and the refuge is closed entirely during the hunting season. There is an active Bald Eagle nest on the Refuge which regularly fledge one to two young per year. In 1996, a release of 19 trumpeter swans was conducted by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Montana Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks and the USFWS with the hope of re-establishing a breeding flock in the valley.

Efforts to improve wildlife habitat over the years have included planting food and cover crops for upland game birds, the construction of nesting islands for waterfowl, and prescribed burning to enhance brooding areas and provide browse for Canada geese. Biological, chemical and mechanical methods are used to control some species of non-native plants which have begun encroaching on the refuge. Aerial surveys are conducted periodically to monitor waterfowl numbers and nesting success.

The refuge is closed to hunting. Adjoining State-owned lands are managed by the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks for wildlife cover, food production, and public hunting. These lands are open to hunting on a first-come-first served basis for waterfowl and pheasant shooting. The closure of Pablo NWR enhances the quality of hunting in the Flathead Valley.

Directions 

Pablo National Wildlife Refuge is located approximately 75 miles north of Missoula and 3 miles south of Polson. Turn west on Reservoir Road 3 miles south of Polson. Traveling west for 1-1/2 miles will bring you to the kiosk for Pablo NWR. The dike road is open for travel during daylight hours through the summer. There are several county roads bordering the Refuge.

The National Bison Range

American Bison

The National Bison Range was established in 1908 and is one of the oldest Wildlife Refuges in the nation. The Range is about 25 miles south of Montana’s Flathead Lake.

The National Bison RangeA large portion of the 18, 500 acre Range consists of native Palouse prairie; forests, wetlands, and streams are also found here providing a wide range of habitats for wildlife. Elk, deer, pronghorn, black bear, coyote and ground squirrels are just some of the mammals that share the area with 350 to 500 bison. Over 200 species of birds also call this home including eagles, hawks, meadowlarks, bluebirds, ducks, and geese.

The National Bison Range

General Information

Fees are charged during the summer (mid-May to late October). The Range is part of the U.S. Fee System and accepts Golden Passes and Federal Waterfowl Stamps. Pay fees at the Visitor Center.

The Range is closed at night. Check the Contact Us page for current hours.

Camping is not allowed on the Range.

Visitor Center

The best place to start your visit is at the Visitor Center. Here you will find informative displays and handouts, restrooms, videos, a bookstore, and staff to answer your questions. Pay entrance fees here.  For more information about the Bison Range and other activities in northwest Montana, consider purchasing a copy of the Flathead Lake Vacation Guide.

Auto Tours

The National Bison RangePrairie Drive/West Loop: a 5-mile gravel road that travels through the flats. It is open to trailers and large RVs. It goes by the Bison Display Pasture. Plan for 1/2 hour. Open year round.

Red Sleep Mountain Drive: a 19-mile, one-way, gravel road which gains 2,000feet. There are many switchbacks and 10% grades along the drive. No trailers or vehicles over 32 feet are allowed on this drive. Allow 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Open mid-May to late October. (Check the Contact Us page for current information.)

Walking Trails: Hiking is limited on the Range to a few short walking trails. A mile-long Nature Trail is located at the Picnic Area and 1/4-mile Grassland Trail is at the Visitor Center. The 1/2-mile Bitterroot Trail and 1-mile High Point trail are both located off the Red Sleep Mountain Drive. Walking away from your vehicle is prohibited except for these designated trails. For a complete listing of trails around Flathead Lake, see the Go Hike With Mike Trail guide.

The National Bison Range: Picnic Area

The Range has a picnic area near Mission Creek. There are tables, grills, water, and accessible toilets. A covered pavilion is available on a first-come, first-served basis. There are no garbage cans, so please pack out all trash.

How to get here:

From Missoula: Travel north on US Highway 93 to Ravalli, turn left(to the west) on to State Highway 200, travel approximately 5 miles to the junction of Highways 200 and 212, turn right(to the north) and travel approximately 5 miles to the entrance of the Range at Moiese.

From Kalispell: Travel south on US Highway 93 or State Highway 35 to Polson, then travel Highway 93 through Pablo and Ronan to the junction of Highway 93 and State Highway 212, travel 12 miles (through Charlo) to the entrance of the Range at Moiese.

From the west: Travel Highway 200 through Dixon to the junction of Highways 200 and 212, turn left(to the north) and travel approximately 5 miles to the entrance of the Range at Moiese.

Hiking Trail Guide from Go Hike With Mike

Trail Guide

Hiking Trail Guide

We are proud to announce our newest website GoHikeWithMike.com along with the 150+ page Flathead Lake trail guide.

Trail GuideThe Go Hike with Mike Trail Guide contains most every trail head around Flathead Lake.  The guide includes trails as far north as Polebridge.

It also contains the Hungry Horse recreation area, the Swan Front and Swan Valley to the east.  To the north the guide contains trail head and campground information around Tally Lake.

The trail-guide contains detailed information about each trail.  Content comes from Fish Wildlife and Parks, as well as 20 years of hiking and walking in the woods.

Looking for a great trail in Flathead National Forest, Montana?   The Go Hike With Mike Trail-Guide contains most all of them in northwest Montana.  Trails include  trail running trails, mountain biking trails and just great hiking trails.

Ready for some hiking? There are 30 moderate trails in Flathead National Forest ranging from 1.8 to 23 miles and from 3,034 to 7,421 feet above sea level. Start checking them out and you’ll be out on the trail in no time!

Hiking Trail Guide

It doesn’t matter if you are a novice hiker or you love a challenge: Jewel Basin has a hike for you. You’ll discover 15,349 acres of wilderness, 27 lakes and nearly 50 miles of hike-only trails.

The Jewel Basin is located just outside of Bigfork in the Flathead National Forest. To access the trailhead from Bigfork, take Hwy 35 north to Hwy 83.  Head east on Hwy 83 to the junction of the Echo Lake Road. Head north on Echo Lake Road about 3 miles to junction with the Jewel Basin Road (No. 5392).  Follow this road approx. 7 miles to the trailhead.

Get your  150+ page Flathead Lake trail guide. or visit the website: GoHikeWithMike.com