PLACES: Belton Bridge

By Beacon Staff

This week may be one of the last to take in some of the stunning fall colors in the Flathead Valley and a great spot to do that is at the Belton Bridge in West Glacier.

Located at the mouth of John Stevens Canyon along the Middle Fork, the bridge was the original entrance to Glacier National Park and in 1920 a modern concrete bridge was constructed. For two decades the bridge brought visitors into the park until a bridge at the current entrance was built in the late 1930s. However, the old Belton Bridge would once again see use in 1964, when a devastating flood took out the new bridge. Although the Belton Bridge was damaged as well, a concrete arch remained and the Park Service built a temporary bridge, which was used for two years.

Today, the Belton Bridge is used as a pedestrian path over the Middle Fork and provides excellent views of the river. The bridge also provides access to the Southern Boundary Trail, which meanders along the Middle Fork of the Flathead River and is also be a perfect weekend activity, although be sure to pack some bear spray, just in case. There is also a short walking path along the river to the west of the bridge.

How to get there: In West Glacier, take a left off U.S. Route 2 towards the park entrance. Take a right on Old River Road. Go about a mile, past the school and some cabins, and park right in front of the bridge. Crossing the bridge provides trail access and a small interpretive sign.