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Outdoor Activities Around Whitefish

Big Mountain and Whitefish Lake
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Whitefish excels in one thing in particular – a very close proximity to a whole host of various outdoor activities. For hiking, Glacier National Park, with its 800 miles of trails, is about 25 miles away. Countless other hiking trails are located in the nearby Swan Mountains and just out of town in the Whitefish Range. Other, less designated hiking trails, are also found in the nearby State Forest lands that lie just outside of town.

Whitefish also is lucky enough to have one of the nicest lakes in all of Montana, Whitefish Lake. This beautiful lake, which lies at the base of Big Mountain, stretches for seven miles and is about a half mile wide. Whitefish Lake has clear water and good fishing for lake trout. During the summer, Whitefish Lake is a very popular place for boating – with dozens of boats on the water during nice weather. The clear waters of Whitefish Lake, combined with beautiful views of the surrounding mountains, has led to massive building along the shores of the lake – no doubt greatly contributing to the growth of Whitefish.

It is during the winter months, though, that Whitefish really stands out. The Whitefish Mountain Resort ski area, which is patently obvious from downtown, lies just seven road miles away – and the recently redesigned road has taken some of the “scare” out of driving up to the ski resort during the winter. The Whitefish Mountain Resort has been a big contributor to the growth seen in Whitefish during the 2000’s – with even more development planned.

If cross-country skiing is more your style, fear not. Whitefish Mountain Resort has a small network of cross-country ski trails. Better (and free) ski trails, though, will be found up in Glacier National Park and in some trails maintained by the Flathead National Forest about 10 miles west of town.

Snowmobiling is another popular sport in and around Whitefish. While Whitefish doesn’t receive outrageous amounts of snow (about 70 inches per year), the mountains just outside of town can receive well over 300 inches. Just outside of Whitefish lies the Whitefish Range. This mountain range has miles and miles of forest service roads, a good portion of which become snowmobile trails during the winter months (many of which are actually groomed). If you don’t mind the noise, these trails also make for good cross country skiing too.

Finally, there are the magnificent rivers of the Flathead Valley. The little Whitefish River, which flows between Whitefish Lake and the Flathead River, is popular for short floats in “whatever floats.” While the river has just so-so fishing, the float down the Whitefish River is scenic. A more enjoyable float, however, begins in nearby Columbia Falls where US Highway 2 crosses the Flathead River. The Flathead River float, which runs between Columbia Falls and Kalispell (at the Old Steel Bridge Fishing Access Site) is twelve miles in length and provides stunning views of the Flathead Valley and the mountains that surround it. The fishing in the Flathead River is solid, too.

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