Lakeside: More Than Just the Lake

By Beacon Staff

Obviously, Flathead Lake borders Lakeside to the east. But what’s not so obvious is what borders Lakeside to the west.

And that would be Flathead National Forest. Indeed, if you head west from Lakeside, you will end up in Flathead National Forest, at one point or another.

And there’s a lot more to Flathead National Forest than Blacktail Mountain, which is just a fraction of the forest on this side of the lake. Sure, while much of the more than almost 1 million acres of Flathead National Forest lie across Flathead Lake on the east shore, there are thousands of acres on the west shore as well.

Heading into the Flathead National Forest offers practically all kinds of recreation, from hiking, mountain biking, nature viewing, and more. And even short hikes, especially at dusk or dawn, are likely to bring exciting encounters with various wildlife.

From Lakeside, you can also access the Blacktail Wild Bill Off-Road-Vehicle (OHV) trail system. The “Blacktail system” has about 23 miles of trails and three main “legs” to it. The trails are open for off-road vehicles (of both three- and four-wheeled variety), motorcycles, and mountain bikes – and, of course, hiking and horseback riding as well.

The Wild Bill OHV trail also offers the unique opportunity of OHV riding – and camping. From Lakeside, you can directly access two of the trailheads, #917 and #918, about 12 miles up Blacktail Mountain Road.

And no matter what your choice of activity, the enjoyment of the forest, wildlife, and the beauty of nature (and some amazing views) are just a short drive away from “downtown” Lakeside.

Whenever you’re out and about in the forest, whether riding the trails, mountain biking, camping, or watching wildlife – “leaving the forest as you found it,” is not only a good policy (especially when some uses are under scrutiny), but also a way to show respect for nature – and let others enjoy the forest as you did.

And be sure to be “bear aware” and realize that unless you take necessary precautions, such as keeping food properly contained, you could encounter a hungry bear – which can be extremely dangerous (and certainly not a welcomed experience).

And perhaps one of the best things about Lakeside is that you can take advantage of the lake – and the forest – all in a day.

For more information, visit the Flathead National Forest homepage: www.fs.usda.gov/flathead

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