Grouse Mountain Lodge is the Perfect Jumping-Off Point. Breathe in the morning air and listen to the breeze in the pine trees – it’s the first day of your vacation. In Montana, a quick hike in the woods is a refreshing start to an adventurous day, and it’s easy to jump on the Whitefish Trail from anywhere in town.
The Lion Mountain Trailhead is within walking distance of Grouse Mountain Lodge and is the starting point for plenty of summer adventures – from a short walk to a 10-mile meandering mountain bike ride.
What is the Whitefish Trail?
The Whitefish Trail is operated by Whitefish Legacy Partners, a nonprofit organization that is “committed to providing permanent access and recreational opportunities on public and private lands surrounding Whitefish.”
The trail has solid support from the City of Whitefish and the greater community, and to date the collaboration has built 36 miles of stacked loops, single-track, and scenic overlooks on the trail, stemming from ten easy to access trailheads at various locations around the city.
Whitefish Legacy Partners focuses on the mission of protecting clean water, public access, recreation, thriving forests, uncluttered views, and wildlife, which are all community values in the Whitefish area.
Why Locals Love it
The Director of Development for Whitefish Legacy Partners is Alan Meyers-Davis. An avid mountain biker himself, Alan confirmed that one of the biggest draws for the Whitefish Trail is the accessibility. “A quick walk or bike ride after work – that’s the majority of use on the trail. As a Whitefish local, my favorite part of the trail is that it’s so close, and it’s a well-built trail that’s easy to ride or walk. For visitors, the proximity from Grouse Mountain Lodge to the Lion Mountain Trail is unbeatable.”
Alan has asked many visitors, “What brings you to town?” And he’s been surprised by how many say the Whitefish Trail. Especially beloved by visitors from Calgary and neighboring areas, the Whitefish Trail offers a convenient, family-friendly attraction that’s hard to find in other resort towns.
The trail is popular among both hikers and mountain bikers. “It’s an awesome set-up with the local bike shops,” Alan explained. “You can rent a bike in town and be on the trail in ten minutes.”
A Perfect Day Hike: Lion Mountain Loop
For a simple day hike that offers beautiful views, head to Lion Mountain. One of the most popular hikes in the area, Lion Mountain’s main route is a 3-mile loop that’s well-suited for beginning and intermediate hikers or bikers.
Lion Mountain Trail Map. Image courtesy Whitefish Legacy Partners
From Grouse Mountain Lodge, the Lion Mountain Trailhead is just one mile north on Highway 93. Once you start down the trail, you can mix and match different trail loops. Most trails lead up a series of gently rolling hills to a scenic overlook, which offers an Instagram-ready view of a small lake and the peaks of the Whitefish Range.
If you’re up for a challenge, connect the Lion Mountain Trail to the other loops going to Beaver Lakes or the Skyles area. Once you’ve finished your hike, head back to Grouse Mountain Lodge for the next activity of your day, whether it’s a round of golf or an early lunch on the patio overlooking the picturesque course.
The Future of the Whitefish Trail
The goal of the Whitefish Legacy Partners is to “close the loop” and build the Whitefish Trail to connect all the way around Whitefish Lake. The trail is under a permanent conservation easement, which adds value to the community by preserving these trails forever. For hikers, walkers, and bikers, this treasured trail system is an incredible community asset that is built to last.