Trail 2 open for the year

Trail 2 Maintenance, July 7, 2016

Trail 2 Maintenance, July 7, 2016

The North Fork Trails Association is pleased to announce that Trail 2 is now open. Randy Kenyon, Alan Peura and Bill Walker removed all the downfall and brushed the trail out a bit on July 7.

Trail 2 is a popular trail running from Moran Basin Road to Coal Ridge, the location of a number of old lookouts, including the 1928 “Coal Ridge Patrol Cabin.”

We were in a hurry to clear the trail because there is an upcoming hike along Trail 2 to Coal Ridge in conjunction with the Montana Wilderness Association’s Wilderness Walks program on July 16. See the NFTA schedule at for details, including a registration link.

Passing the (hard)hat on the 4th

Polebridge 4th of July Parade, 2016 - Floating on the 4th

Polebridge 4th of July Parade, 2016 – Floating on the 4th

John O’Hara had a great idea for this year’s Polebridge Fourth of July parade. There’s a delay between the time the parade passes through town outbound and when it gets turned around for the return trip. John brought in a popular local magician to perform during this intermission. At the beginning of his act, he announced that the North Fork Trails Association was in need of funds and asked folks to toss whatever they could spare into the hardhats NFTA members were passing through the crowd.

Polebridge 4th of July Parade, 2016 - Pole Dancers

Polebridge 4th of July Parade, 2016 – Pole Dancers

We did well, collecting $178 in short order. That was enough to make it a very good day for our humble organization, but then “Cheryl and Mike,” whose “Polebridge Pole Dancers” float won first prize, donated their prize money ($100) to the NFTA and matched it with another $100! Make that an excellent day!

Polebridge 4th of July Parade, 2016 - Glacier NP

Polebridge 4th of July Parade, 2016 – Glacier NP

A big thank you to John O’Hara for setting up this scheme, to parade participants “Cheryl and Mike” for their generous donation and to all the NFTA members (including hat-passers, Dick Leigh, Alan Peura and Logan Funk and magician victim “Mrs. Polebridge” Janet Leigh) who helped us pull it off.

National Trails Day celebration a big success in the North Fork

Thanks to Debo Powers for this report . . .

2016 National Trails Day - Trail Crew

2016 National Trails Day – Trail Crew

Seventeen people (including 9 members of the North Fork Trails Association) showed up last  Saturday morning to work on the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail (PNT). The PNT passes through the North Fork on its way from the Pacific Ocean to Chief Mountain on the east side of Glacier National Park. The event was organized by Stephanie Campbell, the regional manager for the PNT. Several members of the Montana Conservation Corp joined other volunteers to work on the trail. A delicious lunch was served for volunteers at the Polebridge Mercantile following the trail work.

National Trails Day in the North Fork! – Sat., June 4

MCC Trail MaintenanceLove Trails? Join Us to Get Outside & Give Back!

Join the Pacific Northwest Trail Association, Montana Conservation Corps, and the North Fork Trails Association for a day of outdoor fun, stewardship, and community on the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail!

– Tell me more!: After meeting at Polebridge Mercantile in the morning, we will carpool to the Hay Creek Trailhead, hiking while removing trail brush and obstacles. Be sure to bring your own pack with warm layers, rain gear, and plenty of water and snacks! Long pants and sturdy footwear are a must!

– I’m in! But is there food?: Barbecue lunch provided by Polebridge Mercantile and the Pacific Northwest Trail Association.

– How do I get there and back?: Meet at Polebridge Mercantile @ 9:15am or take a MCC shuttle to Polebridge from Columbia Falls’ Super 1 leaves @ 8:15am. Shuttle back to Columbia Falls from Polebridge leaves at 2:30pm.

For more information contact Stephanie Campbell: or 765-465-9891.

**If you plan on attending, please RSVP to**

2016 NTD Hay Creek Flyer - thumbnailView/download the
National Trails Day
event poster
(JPG, 411KB).

Check out the ‘National Trails Day on the Pacific Northwest Trail’ Facebook event page.

Forest Service backs off (for now) on reductions in Montana trail maintenance funding

Trail 2, mile 2, Flathead NF, July 10, 2014 - by W. K. Walker

Trail 2, mile 2, Flathead NF, July 10, 2014 – by W. K. Walker

In the face of some angry senatorial blow-back, the Forest Service has restored full trail maintenance funding in Region 1. For now . . .

The U.S. Forest Service has dropped its proposal to reduce funding for trail maintenance in Montana. The agency originally planned to reduce appropriations for Region One, which includes Montana, by 30 percent over the next three years. This included a potential loss of $1 million to Montana’s federal trail budget this year.

U.S. Sens. Steve Daines and Jon Tester criticized Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell last week for failing to prioritize trail maintenance in Montana. The agency proposed revising its formula for funding trail maintenance across the U.S. with an added emphasis on higher population centers. In Region One, there are 28,000 miles of federally managed trails.

The agency on Friday said it would reconsider the formula change and withdrew the proposal.

Read more . . .

Also read: Forest Service backs off planned cuts in trail maintenance in Montana (Missoulian)

It’s tick season, take precautions

Deer Tick, Adult Female - UMaine Cooperative Extension-Griffin Dill

Deer Tick, Adult Female – UMaine Cooperative Extension-Griffin Dill

Speaking from personal experience, tick season arrived early in the North Fork this year and the nasty little critters will likely stay active into September. Ticks prefer moist, brushy areas, but even seemingly dry, more open areas like the trail to Glacier View peak have their share of ticks right now.

So, precautions are in order. The basics are long sleeves, long pants, a hat and vigilance. Light colored clothing makes ticks easier to spot.

Pre-treating hiking togs with a permethrin based spray will actually kill ticks that get on your clothing. The treatment lasts through several wash cycles.

Insect repellent will keep flies and mosquitoes away, but won’t discourage ticks from hitching a ride. They’ll simply walk across repellent-treated areas in search of a tastier spot to dig in.

And, of course, check yourself and your gear thoroughly when you get home.

For more information, here are a couple of useful articles:

10 Important Ways to Avoid Summer Tick Bites (LiveScience)
Preventing tick bites (Centers for Disease Control)

MWA rolls out online Montana hiking guide

MWA - poster

MWA – poster

The Montana Wilderness Association announced today their shiny, new online hiking guide for Montana at Here’s what Brian Sybert, MWA executive director has to say about it:

Today, we’re celebrating a new chapter in MWA’s long and proud tradition of connecting people to Montana’s special places that deserve protection. We’re celebrating the state’s first-ever online, statewide trail guide –

Made possible by a generous grant from the Montana Office of Tourism, is a one-stop, comprehensive tool for finding a trail in just about any given area across the state, east or west. allows users to:

  • Discover trails recommended by local residents.
  • Locate trails on an electronic map.
  • Choose a perfect path based on distance and elevation gain.
  • View waterfalls, badlands, ancient forests, big views, and other natural wonders.
  • Review trail conditions added by recent hikers and add their own trip reports.
  • Contribute their own trail descriptions.
  • Find a great place near the trailhead to stay for the night or have breakfast, a burger, or a beer.

I encourage you to read more about the guide or check out now and see all the great hikes that await, either in your backyard or the next time you visit Montana.

The 2016 trails season begins

No, really. We actually did a small trail project in February, not to mention a nice little ski trip.

On February 23, a couple of us — myself (Bill Walker) and Greg Evans — headed up Trail 266 towards Glacier View Peak from the trailhead near the Camas Road. We removed 22 blow-downs from the first mile of trail and had lunch with a view.

160223 - Trail 266 - Trailhead at Camas

Trail 266 – Trailhead at Camas

160223 - Trail 266 - Lunch

Trail 266 – Lunch With a View

A few days later, a group of us had a pleasant ski up Road 909 from the Hay creek Road. Everyone had a good time. Upholding NFTA tradition, we cut out a couple of blow-downs on the way back.

160226 - Rd 909, Hay Creek Drainage

Road 909, Hay Creek Drainage – Left to right: Greg Evans, Ceder, Randy Kenyon, John O’Hara, Joyce O’Hara, Debo Powers, Bill Walker and Rachel Peura (behind the camera)

It was a nice start to what should be a good trails season.

2015 in review

Even with a very early start to the 2015 fire season, the North Fork Trails Association was active from mid-May right through the end of October. The tinder dry forest prevented us from using any tools that might strike a spark, but we found plenty to accomplish with the one-person saws that are becoming part of our standard kit and we did quite a bit of scouting throughout the North Fork.

Here, then, are a few highlights from the 2015 trails season…

We didn’t get much snow this year so, we were able to get boots on the trail by late May. The first expedition of any size was up Trail 4 on May 26. We were up and down this trail several times throughout the year.

150526 - Trail 4 Hikers

Trail 4 Hikers

Another trail that got a lot of attention was the eastern section of the Pacific Northwest Trail where it passes through the North Fork — Trail 3 and a segment of Trail 26.

151011 - Trail 3 Trailhead

Trail 3 Trailhead

150609 - T26 at T3 Intersection - Sign Detail

T26 at T3 Intersection – Sign Detail

150609 - T26 at T3 Intersection

T26 at T3 Intersection

150709 - Trail 3 - Butterfly

Trail 3 – Butterfly

It was a very early fire season. Just as we hit our stride, the region began to get smoky. This view west along the Hay Creek drainage, was taken July 9. It got a lot worse later.

150709 - Trail 3 - Smoke

Trail 3 – Smoke

The old Cleft Rock Trail, Trail 13, got a number of visits early in the season, as we checked out several ways of accessing it. (The eastern end currently stops at private land.) There will be a lot more activity on this project in 2016.

150629 - Randy on Cleft Rock Trail

Randy on Cleft Rock Trail in old Wedge Canyon Fire burn area

Before things got too smoky, we spent a fair amount of time in early July ensuring that Trail 2 was fixed up and ready for a “Wilderness Walks” hike scheduled for mid-July. Read about the hike here and the trail cleanup efforts here and here.

We’ll “draw the curtain of charity” over late summer, which was heavily shrouded in smoke from regional fires and dangerously dry. Besides, yours truly forgot to bring his camera.

We squeezed in several late season activities, including a couple of hikes up Lake Mountain on Trail 375. The first day we went up there, the air was so clear we could see smoke rising from a wildfire near the Idaho border, almost 70 miles to the west.

150928 - Trail 375 - Stony Basin Lake

Trail 375 – Stony Basin Lake

150930 - Trail 375 - Overlooking Chain Lakes

Trail 375 – Overlooking Chain Lakes

In early October we visited the Review Mountain Loop (Trails 113 and 23) a couple of times. The first trip was for our own purposes (setting additional cairns and some blow-down removal), the second was a very pleasant and productive meeting with Sean Cranmer of the U.S. Forest Service. Sean was handling trails issues this year. He took the time to drop by once the fires settled down and the smoke cleared.

51004 - Review Mountain Loop - Fall Foliage

Review Mountain Loop – Fall Foliage

151007 - Review Basin Overlook Hike - People

Review Basin Overlook Hike – People

151007 - Review Basin Overlook Hike - Basin View

Review Basin Overlook Hike – Basin View

But wait, there’s more…

October 27 was the final trip to Hornet Lookout.

151027 - Hornet Lookout

Hornet Lookout

The season-ender was October 28, a last trip up Trail 239, the back door to Coal Ridge. Three of us cut out some blow-downs, excepting one that was a little big for the equipment we had on-hand, and signed the log at the Coal Ridge patrol cabin.

151028 - Trail 239 - Blow-down Removal

Trail 239 – Blow-down Removal

151028 - Trail 239 - Need a Bigger Saw

Trail 239 – Need a Bigger Saw

151028 - Coal Ridge Patrol Cabin

Coal Ridge Patrol Cabin

What about 2016? We’re already rolling. Watch this weblog for further developments.