Hiking Flathead National Forest: Forest Service Road
The Flathead National Forest contains 2.4 million acres of land in Montana, much of which is open to exploration. The forest spans a huge area in all four directions from Kalispell and Flathead Lake. Besides opportunities to camp, fish and boat, there are more than 2,500 miles of hiking trails. There are also forest service roads that are open to hiking. We chose one of those this past weekend.
If you are in the mood for hiking, you don’t have to hike on an “official” trail in the Flathead National Forest. You can also choose to walk on an unmarked forest service road where no trailheads are evident. A few days ago, we drove 4.6 miles up Patrick Creek Road, a dirt mountain road, until we arrived at a forest service road on the left. If you’re going there, it’s just a road with a gate. No identifying signs. We hadn’t ever been up that way, so decided to give it a try.
This turned out to be another fantastic spot for a hike! Portions of this particular area have been logged recently. It was easy to see the difference between the part of the land that had already been cleared, and that which had not.
As you can see from this photo on the left, the untouched part of forest is very thick. It has a combination of larch, pine, fir, aspen and other trees. When hiking near thick forests, it is not easy to see whether there are any animals wandering around under the trees. It’s always a great idea to ensure you have bear spray ready to use, and (or) a firearm if you are so inclined.
Once you start up the road shown in the photo on the right, there are various options in terms of direction. The road goes straight just a short way, bares to the left, goes up around a turn and then you can either go to the left or the right. We decided to go right, since the trail was much longer that way. After we went up the hill a half mile or so, there was an option to go left or right again, so we went left. We walked up and up until we saw gorgeous views (of course!). After spending a few minutes soaking in the beauty, we went back down to the last intersection and wandered up the other way.
And that is what exploring the forest is all about. Just wander. Roam. Look around. See what there is to see. Be in the moment. While we did not see anything exciting in terms of animals or birds, we enjoyed tons of flowers, trees, views. And most importantly, we were able to enjoy a wonderful sunny summer Sunday in the great outdoors!
Now there are only about 2,490 miles of Flathead National Forest trails and roads left to explore.
For other hiking posts, click here. For more information on the Kalispell area, click here. And of course, if you need help selling or buying a home in the Flathead Valley, I can be reached at 406-270-3667 and firstname.lastname@example.org.