PLACES: Coram Experimental Forest

By Beacon Staff

With a trailhead in Martin City, the Coram Experimental Forest is a beautiful place to spend a winter day. Though we explored it on cross country skis, the forest is clearly a favorite of snowmobilers, with several families and groups of friends parking and unloading on a recent Saturday to head out on their sleds.

As such, the trails aren’t groomed if you’re on skis, but it’s easy to find firm snow in the track of a snowmobile for kicking and gliding. Established in 1933 on 7,460 acres of the Flathead National Forest, the Coram Experimental Forest is an outdoor laboratory dedicated to studying the management of Western Larch. According to the U.S. Forest Service, many of the understory trees average over 300 years old, and a few larch are over 500 years old.

In the summer, the ride up Desert Mountain is popular with mountain bikers, but in the winter, the skiing is quiet, and you’re unlikely to encounter anyone at all.

How to Get There: From Columbia Falls head east on U.S. Highway 2. Hang a right on Route 2 toward Martin City, then a slight right onto Central Avenue through downtown Martin City. Central Avenue turns into South Fork Road. Take a slight right onto East Side Road, and the major trailhead and parking lot is almost immediately on your left.

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