PLACES: Flathead Lake Interpretive Trail

By Beacon Staff

If you need a place to stretch your legs while traveling MT Highway 35 along the eastern edge of Flathead Lake, put down the bag of cherries for a moment and check out the Flathead Lake Interpretive Trail No. 77 half-mile loop.

Two half-oval parking areas, north and south, can be found on the lake side of the highway south of Woods Bay. Keep an eye out for the Beardance Trail and Flathead Lake Trail sign just before the turnoff. The main trailhead marker is at the northern parking area.

Pick up a trail guide under the “Flathead Lake Interpretive Trail No. 77” sign. The numbered stations along the trail correspond to the numbers in the guide and discuss everything from fire – causing the “Cat Face” burn at the base of a tree – and mistletoe and insects to the history of the lake formation and the first people to inhabit the area.

The hike is not the easiest but not altogether strenuous. It starts out with a quick descent toward the lake. Remember, what you hike down, you must hike up. Once at the bottom, a series of steep steps take you to the edge of the lake you can sit on the bench and look out over the vista. Continuing to hike, you’ll cross a footbridge over Crane Creek and the climb back up begins.

How to get there: From Downtown Kalispell, take U.S. Highway 93 south. Turn east on State Highway 82. At the intersection, turn south on State Highway 35. Continue on Highway 35 through Bigfork and Woods Bay. Look for the turnoff on the lake side about three miles south.