Category Archives: News

Forest Service ups reliance on volunteers for trail repair

Trail Clearing with 'Silky' Saw

Trail Clearing with ‘Silky’ Saw

More visitors, less money and a mandate to increase volunteer help on trail maintenance. This should be an interesting year . . .

The U.S. Forest Service hopes to double the workload of its volunteer helpers as it attacks a backlog of trail maintenance largely in Montana.

The Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex’s 3,200 miles of trail arrived No. 1 on a Forest Service priority list for trail work last Friday. So did the Continental Divide Scenic Trail; its largest segment passes through Montana. And the Central Idaho Wilderness Complex listing includes a chunk of the Bitterroot National Forest slopping across the Montana-Idaho border.

But no money was attached to any of these priority areas. Instead, the Forest Service is following the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act of 2016, which commands the agency “to increase trail maintenance by volunteers and partners by 100 percent” within five years of enactment.

Read more . . .

Winter Trails Day in the Flathead

Lunch on Glacier View Mtn

Lunch on Glacier View Mtn

From the official Forest Service press release

The Flathead Community of Resource Educators (CORE), a network of individuals and organizations working together to increase awareness and understanding about the natural, historical and cultural resources of the Flathead Region, is celebrating Winter Trails Day on Saturday, January 20 with several free outdoor activities.

These free activities are a great way to enjoy the outdoors in winter and discover the fitness and social benefits of snowshoeing and winter hiking in Northwest Montana. All activities are suitable for beginners and families. Be prepared with warm clothing and wear sturdy hiking shoes or boots. Bring along binoculars for catching a glimpse of winter birds.

  • Snowshoe walk in the Flathead National Forest, hosted by the Swan Lake Ranger District and Foy’s to Blacktail Trails, will be at the Blacktail Mountain cross-country ski trails near Lakeside, 10am-Noon. Come explore the winter landscape and enjoy a guided look at animal tracks, trees and shrubs and even the snowpack. Participants may bring snowshoes, or a limited number of children and adult shoes will be available by reservation. Please meet at the Blacktail Cross-Country Ski Trails parking area. For more information or to reserve snowshoes, please contact the Swan Lake Ranger District at 837-7500.
  • Explore Lone Pine State Park on snowshoes. Adult and children’s snowshoes are available on a first-come, first-served basis. A ranger-led snowshoe walk takes place from 2pm to 3:30pm. Please contact the park at 755-2706 for more information or to reserve snowshoes for a fee.
  • Ranger-led snowshoe hikes at Glacier National Park will be hosted at 10:30am and 2pm. Each hike will last approximately two hours and reservations are not required. Take an intimate look at the park searching for signs of wildlife, discovering plants and animals and enjoying the solitude of winter. Snowshoes are available for hike participants. Visitors need to purchase a park entrance pass. Please meet at the Apgar Visitor Center. Call 888-7800 for more information.
  • Join Flathead Audubon for a guided ‘Winter Birding and Tracking’ snowshoe hike along the river bottom trails at the Owen Sowerwine Natural Area in Kalispell, from 10am to Noon. Bring your snowshoes. Meet at the Montessori School parking lot on Willow Glen Ave. Call 249-3987 or email for more information and to register.

For more information about the above local events visit,

During the month of January there are other opportunities to get outdoors and enjoy winter trails, including a ‘Winter Walk’ on snowshoes with the Montana Wilderness Association to Stanton Lake on January 13 and a winter ecology walk in the Condon area, January 27 with Swan Valley Connections, ( . On January 20 Glacier Nordic Club hosts Winter Trails Day from 11am to 3pm at Whitefish Lake Golf Course with free rentals, trail passes and more.

US Forest Service map prices set to increase January 1, 2018

Hay Creek Drainage - West End

Hay Creek Drainage – West End

Well, rats. USFS map prices are going up. Here’s the meat of the official press release . . .

For the first time in nearly a decade, increasing costs of production, printing, and distribution are driving the need for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s U.S. Forest Service to increase the price of its maps. Prices of USFS paper and plastic coated maps will increase to $14 on Monday, Jan. 1, 2018.

The Forest Service continually updates its maps and looks for ways to enhance maps. The Forest Service expects to shorten the revision cycle as cartographers continue to apply new digital technology to the map revision process.

The Forest Service is also working to increase the availability of digital maps. Digital maps for mobile applications can be downloaded here: Digital maps cost $4.99 per side.

There are three ways to order maps from the National Forest Map Store (NFMS):

  1. Online:
  2. By phone: (406) 329-3024
  3. By US Mail:

USDA Forest Service
National Forest Store
P.O. Box 7669
Missoula, MT 59807

In an effort to help offset the pricing increase for volume sales, starting Jan. 1, 2018 discount pricing will be made available on sales of 10 or more of maps of the same title. Discounted maps are only available when purchased through the NFMS.

The U.S. Forest Service is dedicated in researching, producing and distributing informative, accurate maps that can help improve the experience on America’s national forests and grasslands. Additional online resources that may help users enjoy the great outdoors:
Interactive Visitor Map to help you find great places to go and explore
Know Before You Go for tips that can help you enjoy the outdoors and be safe

Trail Creek Road reopens; trail closures remain

Trail Creek/Graves Creek Road (#114) is open again, but the trail closures in the upper Trail Creek and Whale Creek drainages are still in place.

Canyon Creek Road (#316) has also been reopened.

Here’s the full official press release . . .

Forest System Road #114 Trail Creek /Graves Creek is now open. It was closed for public safety due to fire activity from the Gibraltar Ridge and Weasel Fires. The road closure began at Tuchuck Campground and extended through the Kootenai National Forest to Graves Creek (Milepost 8.8 – 14.8). The area closures in upper Trail Creek (including Tuchuck Mountain), and Upper Whale Creek will remain in place until further assessments can be made. The Area Closure remains in place due to active fire still present in these areas and fire directly impacting system trails.

Use caution when driving through open roads in the area; crews and equipment may be working, you may encounter activity on the road system.

Additionally, permanent repairs have been accomplished on Canyon Creek Road #316, located approximately 5 miles north of Columbia Falls on the Glacier View Ranger District. Effective immediately, the road is now open from the intersection of Road #316 and 316D (9 mile); west 7 miles to the intersection with Forest Road #316C (South Fork of Canyon Creek). The Kimmerly Road (FS Rd 316B) remains closed to motorized use from its junction of the 316 Road and beyond, due ongoing repair work. The Kimmerly Road is expected to be open for snowmobiles and grooming operations this coming winter.

While recreating on the Flathead National Forest, users are advised to use caution when traveling on Forest roads; encountering heavy truck or other vehicle traffic is common. Please do not to block gates on Forest roads, and report any road damage, or road issues of concern to your local forest service office.

For updated information on temporary road restrictions, campgrounds, and access on the Flathead National Forest, please contact the respective ranger district in your area:

Hungry Horse/Glacier View at (406) 387-3800, Tally Lake at (406) 758-5204, Swan Lake at (406) 837-7500, or Spotted Bear at (406) 758-5376 or (406) 387-3800.

Gibraltar Ridge and Weasel Fire – Road, Trail & Area Closures

Gibraltar-Weasel Closure Map, Sep 10, 2017

Gibraltar-Weasel Closure Map, Sep 10, 2017

This just in from the Flathead National Forest . . .

Media Contact: Janette Turk
(406) 758-5252

Kalispell, MT. September 10, 2017- The Gibralter Ridge Fire and the Weasel fire are burning in the Kootenai National Forest approximately 7 miles east of Eureka.  The east side of the Gibraltar fire has moved into the mouth of the Blue Sky drainage in the Whitefish Range.  The Weasel fire has moved near the Flathead and Kootenai forest boundary.  To protect health and public safety by keeping the public out of the active fire area, the Kootenai National Forest has closed a large area from the Whitefish divide to the west boundary of the Fortine District, and from the Canadian Border to Deep Creek. The Flathead National Forest has closed an area north of Link lake trailhead north to the Canada border and east of the Kootenai border.

The following NFS Road is partially closed:

  • A portion of NFS Road #114 (Trail Creek Road) from the Flathead National Forest boundary to the junction with Stoken Bridge/Foothills Road. To support these efforts the Flathead National Forest has installed a gate on NFS Road #114 (Trail Creek) and has closed NFS Road #114 from mile point 8.8 to 14.8, the boundary with the Kootenai National Forest.

The following NFS trails are closed:

  • Trails 19, 23, 114, 113, 22, 13, 28, 79, 11, 13, 106 and 26 from the Link lake TH to the north.

The following NFS area is closed:

  • Area from the Link lake TH north along the Kootenai/Flathead NF boundary to the Canada border

Forest fire fighting resources are supporting the fires listed above and are prepared with initial attack resources as needed.  For more information contact the Hungry Horse/Glacier View District at 406-387-3800.

Wilderness fires prompt trail closures

Scalp Fire from Spotted Bear LO, Aug 27, 2017, 1830MDT - courtesy of Heather Welch

Scalp Fire from Spotted Bear LO, Aug 27, 2017, 1830MDT – courtesy of Heather Welch

From the official press release

Kalispell, MT-September 2, 2017 – Seven fires are currently burning in the Spotted Bear Ranger District on the Flathead National Forest and with active fire growth on several of the fires, district officials have closed trails for public safety. The fires are burning in the Bob Marshall and Great Bear Wilderness Areas. Significant stretches of the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) are affected by the fires and trail closures.

Individual fires are listed below with a link to more specific fire and trail closure information:

Strawberry Fire – Upper Middle Fork, Great Bear Wilderness,

Scalp Fire – Upper Middle Fork, Great Bear Wilderness,

Dolly Varden Fire – Upper Middle Fork, Great Bear Wilderness,

Soakem Fire – Upper Middle Fork, Great Bear Wilderness, as of 9/1/17, 1.5 acres; located in the upper Minor Creek drainage. No closures currently associated with this fire.

Reef Fire – Youngs Creek drainage, Bob Marshall Wilderness,

Rice Ridge Fire – Youngs Creek drainage, Bob Marshall Wilderness,

Monahan Fire – Danaher Creek drainage, Bob Marshall Wilderness,

There are several trail closures on the Lewis and Clark National Forest, Rocky Mountain Ranger District also associated with the Scalp Fire, and the Crucifixion Fire in the Badger-Two Medicine area (

For a map of all the trail closures within the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, visit the Flathead National Forest webpage,

Visitors planning to travel along the CDT, contact the Spotted Bear Ranger District for information on alternative travel routes

“Safety for the public is my main concern when closing trails, however there are many areas still open for backcountry use and camping” says Spotted Bear detailed District Ranger Gordon Ash.

Contact the Spotted Bear Ranger District at (406) 758-5376 for current fire information and opportunities for backcountry use.

Gibraltar Ridge Fire closure order affects Trail Creek, PNT

Gibraltar Ridge Fire Closure Map, Aug 8, 2017

Gibraltar Ridge Fire Closure Map, Aug 8, 2017

A closure order was issued this afternoon in the Kootenai National Forest as a result of the Gibraltar Ridge Fire in the Eureka area.

This closure affects travel from the North Fork over Trail Creek into the Kootenai. The Forest Service is posting signs at the North Fork Road/Trail Creek Road junction, and at the Tuchuck Trailhead.

This also affects the Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT). Notifications are going up at strategic trailheads for the PNT in both the Kootenai and Flathead Forests.

For more information on the Gibraltar Ridge Fire, see the Inciweb page at

Stage 1 fire restrictions in effect for Great Bear and Bob Marshall wildernesses

Stage 1 fire restrictions are now in effect for Great Bear and Bob Marshall wildernesses. In brief, this means:

  • No campfires, unless the campsite is posted with specific exemptions.
  • No smoking, unless within an enclosed vehicle, building, developed recreation site or an area 3 feet in diameter cleared of all flammable materials.

The Trail Condition Report for the Hungry Horse RD has been updated to reflect this situation.

Trail condition reports for June 21, 2017 posted

Moran Basin Trail (Trail 2), mile 2, Flathead NF, July 10, 2014 - by W. K. Walker

Moran Basin Trail (Trail 2), mile 2, Flathead NF, July 10, 2014 – by W. K. Walker

That was quick! Two sets of trail reports in a single week…

The latest (June 21) Forest Service Trail Condition Reports for the Hungry Horse and Glacier View ranger districts have been posted to the website Trail Conditions page.

These reports contain a fair amount of useful information. Besides trail conditions, they include trail numbers, their official names and end-to-end mileages.

Annual solstice hike on Wednesday, June 21

Cyclone Lookout

Cyclone Lookout

From Debo Powers . . .

The annual hike to Cyclone Lookout on the evening of the longest day has become a North Fork tradition. Hikers will meet at the junction of North Fork Road and Hay Creek Road at 7:30pm and carpool to the trailhead. This is a fun evening watching the sun set and returning to vehicles before dark.

Participants are asked to bring snacks, insect repellent, bear spray, and headlamps. The hike will be led by NF Trails stalwarts Janet and Dick Leigh.