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Flathead Forest

  • Flathead National Forest

Overview

  • Karla Gadea

The Flathead Forest covers 2.4 million acres of which about 1 million acres is designated wilderness, and is located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. The forest provides habitat for approximately 250 species of wildlife and 22 species of fish. Wildlife includes grizzly bears, lynx, bald eagles, bull trout, and the rare plant water howellia, and the endangered gray wolf. There are approximately 38 miles of the Pacific Northwest Scenic Trail. Flathead Forest has three wilderness areas such as Bob Marshall Wilderness. This national forest has abundant recreational opportunities and amazing natural resources.

Hike Montana’s Swan Crest Trail(Year-round)(Intermediate): The hike to Swan Crest is colorful and amazing. The trail goes as long as 47 miles but can be cut to hikers desires. Coming from Seeley Lake, take the road towards Bigfork. Continue until you get to mile marker 27 and turn right into the Morrell/Clearwater turn off. Stay on the road most traveled until you dead end at the trailhead roughly 7 miles up the road.

Hike to Bond Lake(Summer-Fall)(Intermediate): The hike to Bond Lake is a long 11 miles out and back. The lake is surrounded by big pines and rolling hills. There’s also a small waterfall visitors can enjoy! The lake is a beautiful teal color. From Kalispell, head south towards Swan Lake along Highway 83 until a sign for Bond Creek Trailhead is located on the east side of the road near mile marker 71. Turning onto Forest Service Road #680 and after 1.5 miles, turning on FS Road #9507, the trailhead will be 2.3 miles after the intersection of #680 and #9507.

Hike to Summit of Mount Aeneas(Spring-Fall)(Intermediate): The hike to Summit of Mount Aenas is a 6 miles round trip with a 1,700 foot elevation. It is a Jewel Basin with beautiful views of the park and wilderness. Get a panoramic view of the Flathead Forest and Glacier National Park. The hardest part is about a mile of steep switchbacks, and it’s totally worth the workout for the incredible views. Hikers should check the current status of the trail before hiking.

Hike to Turquoise Lake(Summer-Fall)(Intermediate): Hikers here can see 6 lakes in one valley. On Lace Lake hikers can go cliff jumping! The total distance for this hike is 12.2 miles but hikers are able to turn around at any time. From Hwy 83 in the Swan Valley, south of mile marker 38, turn west onto Kraft Creek Rd also called Forest Service Road #561, the trailhead is about 11.5 miles at the end of the road.

Hike to Morrell Falls(Year-round)(Beginner): The hike to Morrell Falls is a short 2.7 miles out and back. The Morrell Falls cascade is a stunning feature of this hike that falls into a small lake. From the town of Seeley Lake, travel 0.5 mile north on Highway 83. Turn right on Morrell Creek Road which becomes Forest Service Road/Cottonwood Lakes Road, and travel 1.1 miles. Turn left on West Morrell Road and turn right on Pyramid Pass Road, go 0.25 mile. Then turn  left on Morrell Falls Road. Continue for 1 mile to the Morrell Falls Trailhead and parking area.
Climb the Great Northern Mountain(Summer)(Intermediate): This is a 12 mile round trip to the Great Northern Mountain with amazing views. It is a very challenging steep hike. The trail grows faint as you approach the summit. From the village of Hungry Horse, turn on FR 38. After about 15 miles, sharp left on 1048. After 1/2 mile you will find parking on the side of the road immediately after crossing Hungry Horse Creek. Look for the trailhead upstream on the left.

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ACTIVITY:

Hiking, Trails, Camping, Wildlife Observation

Difficulty:

Beginner, Intermediate

SEASON:

Summer, Fall

How to Get There

The closest airport is Glacier Park International Airport and the drive to Flathead National Forest is a total of 2 1/2 hrs. You can also fly to Missoula/Montana which is a 4 1/2hr drive from Flathead Forest.
How long should I stay? The stay in Flathead Forest is suggested to be 2-3 days. It's great to combine this visit with the Glacier National Park visit.

Vacation Rentals (powered by HomeAway.com)

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Rustic Log Cabin On 20 Acres Private and peaceful, only 20 min from town

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The Railway Loft at Whitefish

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Additional Logding Options

Marina Cay Resort (180 Vista Ln, Bigfork, MT 59911)
Website: http://marinacay.com
Phone: (406) 837-5861

Good Medicine Lodge (537 Wisconsin Ave, Whitefish, MT 59937)
Website: http://goodmedicinelodge.com
Phone: (406) 862-5488

The Lodge at Whitefish Lake (1380 Wisconsin Ave, Whitefish, MT 59937)
Website: http://lodgeatwhitefishlake.com
Phone: (406) 863-4000

Dining

Echo Lake Cafe (1195 MT-83, Bigfork, MT 59911)
Website: http://echolakecafe.com
Phone: (406) 837-4252

Moroldo’s Fine Italian Restaurant (7951 MT-35, Bigfork, MT 59911)
Website: http://moroldos.info
Phone: (406) 837-2720

Saketome Sushi (459 Electric Ave, Bigfork, MT 59911)
Website: http://saketomesushi.com
Phone: (406) 837-1128

Tours

Swan Mountain Outfitters LLC (26356 Soup Creek Rd, Swan Lake, MT 59911)
Website: http://swanmountainoutfitters.com
Phone: (406) 387-4405

Valley Wide Seakayaking (15236 MT-35, Bigfork, MT 59911)
Website: No website available, please call for more information.
Phone: (406) 212-5647

Glacier Heli Tours (12205 Hwy. 2 E, West Glacier, MT 59936)
Website: http://glacierhelitours.net
Phone: (406) 387-4141

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