We are soooo lucky to feature @morganwareham_ today. Morgan comes to us from Kalispell, Montana (outside of Glacier National Park) and used to work as a hiking guide so she has some AMAZING tips for us! Let's not waste time, here are Morgan's top 3 hikes for Flathead Valley, MT.
1. Doris Mountain-Flathead National Forest
- off of hungry horse reservoir, follows a forest service road up the mountain with beautiful views of the reservoir and the Flathead Range, including Great Northern Mountain.
- The hike is a short 6 mile, out and back with 1,700 feet in elevation gain. It’s one of the easier peaks in the area with 360 views of the reservoir, mountains and valley! It is unlikely that you will encounter many people.
- The trail markings can be a little confusing on the way up, just make sure to stay to left and you will pass a few alpine lakes in the basin before the final summit.
2. Grinnell Glacier- Glacier National Park
- Its hard to come to the area and not see the wonders of Glacier National Park! To get the full experience, take the Going to the Sun Road from the west entrance to the east and over to Many Glacier. There you will find the Grinnell Complex trailhead.
- The trail is usually crowded, so make sure you get there early in the morning.
- This hike is about 12 miles, out and back, with a steady incline of about 2,100 feet. You can also dip down to Grinnell Lake to get in a few extra miles.
3. Strawberry Lake- Flathead National Forest
- This is a short, but steep hike with only 3 miles from the trailhead to lake but with about 2,000 feet of elevation gain mostly in the first 2 miles.
- Wooded for the first 2 miles but great views of the valley and surrounding mountains once you’re out.
- On warm days, a dip in the lake is just the reward you deserve! If you’re on the trail in July or August, make sure to look for some huckleberries around the lake.
- Likely to encounter a few people on the trail.
Always make sure to carry bear spray with you on any trail in the area!! This is a densely populated grizzly area and although unlikely to have to use it while hiking, it is always necessary to have. In addition, please make sure to educate yourself on how to use it and grizzly safety while hiking in northwestern montana. There are many different outfitters in the area that rent out bear spray if you do not wish to purchase your own.
The best time of year to come depends one what you’re looking for! End of June- August are peak season. So the weathers usually nice but crowds are terrible, especially in Glacier National Park. If you’re looking for some good hiking, September is usually the best time because crowds will start to thin out but weather will still be good, with maybe an occasional chance of snow at high altitudes. Ski season is mid December- beginning of April, with Whitefish Mountain Resort being the most popular, but Blacktail Ski area is still a great choice! Shoulder season April-beginning of June and September- November can be awesome times to come. The fall shoulder season is my favorite due to the decrease in crowds, beautiful fall foliage, and mild temperatures.
TIPS FOR GLACIER NATIONAL PARK
- The past two summers, NPS has been doing a ticketed entry for the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Make sure to check regulations before coming.
- The Going-to-the-Sun Road opens at different times each year depending on the snowfall/weather. It can open anywhere between mid June- mid July. Make sure to plan accordingly and be prepared.
- If the road isn’t open, there is still much you can do. The east side is still accessible by Highway 2, which follows the south border of the park. Many Glacier, Two Medicine and the North Fork area are not along the Going-to-the-Sun Road.