The Whitefish Trail is known far and wide for its extensive hiking and mountain biking opportunities. In Montana, a quick hike in the woods is a refreshing start to an adventurous day. Several trailheads are located just minutes from town, making it easy enjoy stunning scenery and fresh mountain air.
The Whitefish Trail
The Whitefish Trail is operated by Whitefish Legacy Partners, “a nonprofit organization whose community-minded vision ensures conservation, recreation and education on the lands around Whitefish for future generations.”
The trail has solid support from the city of Whitefish and the greater community, and to date the collaboration has built 42 miles of stacked loops, single-tracks and scenic overlooks. The trail system is comprised of 12 unique trailheads that span across 6,100 protected acres.
Why locals love it
The Director of Development for Whitefish Legacy Partners is Alan Meyers-Davis. An avid mountain biker himself, he confirmed that one of the biggest draws for the Whitefish Trail is its accessibility. “A quick walk or bike ride after work — that’s the majority of use on the trail. As a Whitefish local, I love that it’s so close to town and that 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 trailhead is unbeatable.”
Meyers-Davis has asked many visitors what brought them to Whitefish, and he’s been surprised by how many acknowledged the trail as their main draw. Cherished by locals and visitors alike, the Whitefish Trail offers a convenient, family-friendly attraction that’s difficult to come by in other resort towns.
The trail is popular among both hikers and mountain bikers. “We have an awesome set-up with the local bike shops,” Meyers-Davis explained. “You can rent a bike in town and be on the trail in ten minutes.”
A perfect day hike: Lion Mountain
If you’re in search of a simple day hike that offers beautiful views, head to the Lion Mountain trailhead. This trail meanders through the forest to a scenic overlook before looping back to the parking lot. One of the most popular hikes in the area, Lion Mountain’s main route is a three-mile loop that’s well-suited for beginner 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 hit the trail, you can mix and match different trail loops to customize your day hike. The main loop leads up a series of gently rolling hills to a breathtaking overlook of Skyles Lake and Spencer Lake beyond. If you’re up for a challenge, connect Lion Mountain with Skyles Connection to add a few more miles onto your trek.
Once you’ve finished your hike, head back to Grouse Mountain Lodge in time for an early lunch or round of golf. There are plenty of exciting summer activities in Whitefish.
The future of the Whitefish Trail
The primary goal of Whitefish Legacy Partners is to “close the loop” and build the Whitefish Trail to connect around Whitefish Lake. Construction of the Whitefish Trail is scheduled to continue over the next five to ten years, working to provide the community with high-quality, easily-accessible recreation opportunities. The trail is under a permanent conservation easement, which adds value to the community by preserving these trails forever. For recreationalists of all interests, this treasured trail system is an incredible community asset that is built to last.