As the days gradually warm and the spring rains coax flowers to emerge throughout the forest, another long-time resident also makes its annual appearance…the giant pothole that resides at the informal Twin Bridges trailhead at Spencer Mountain. This will be the last season we must tolerate this small lake as we say hello to many improvements to this historic recreation area just 4.5 miles north of Whitefish.
The 2,500 acre Spencer area is filled with user-built historic trails, gated roads, and the infamous freeride features that outdoor enthusiasts have been enjoying for many years. Cross-country cyclists, hikers and equestrians enjoy gorgeous views from the ridge tops, freeride mountain bikers enjoy the adrenaline filled technical jumps and wooden stunts, and the steep climbs and exhilarating descents make Spencer an incredible recreation asset.
The trails at Spencer were, until recently, unauthorized and unmanaged. Fortunately, the DNRC and the City of Whitefish, in partnership with Whitefish Legacy Partners (WLP) and Flathead Fat Tires (FFT) were able to work together to ensure some of the trails and bike features would remain. These groups have entered into a cooperative agreement, and 16 miles of trail at Spencer are now licensed for public use over the next ten years.
This spring, the City of Whitefish, FFT and WLP will begin developing the recreation amenities at Spencer. In coordination with winter logging, recreation improvements will be completed in multiple phases. The south timber sale began this past winter, the north timber sale is currently being planned and road building will begin this fall. Thanks to a lot of hard work from our partners, the forestry work is promised to accommodate the licensed trails.
During the first phase of recreation improvements, providing users with up-to-date information and maps will be a priority. Information kiosk at the temporary parking area at Twin Bridges will be installed, licensed trails will be signed, and additional parking will be available at the south end accessed from KM Ranch and Rifle Range Rd.
FFT will make improvements to the freeride trail network to ensure that the trails and features are properly built and maintained. Meanwhile, WLP will piece together an 8 mile single-track connector loop circumnavigating the Spencer Mountain area, requiring signage and construction of a ¾ mile section of new trail. The Whitefish Trail at Spencer will be a bit different than other sections of the WT as most of the route will utilize historic trails rather than the construction of new trails.
The second phase, set to start after the logging is completed, will include the construction of a new, larger permanent trailhead at Twin Bridges. A long term recreation vision for Spencer may include more licensed trails and a direct connection to the City’s paved bike path network.
In early June, most of the freeride trails will be temporarily closed. Please respect all closures and contact the City or the DNRC with questions or concerns. Finding a way to keep the trails at Spencer has been a long process, involving a lot work from many people and organizations. Volunteer or donate today to FFT and WLP to ensure that Spencer will continue to exist in the future. It’s ON…Spencer 2014!