Close the Loop
The Whitefish Trail not only provides outstanding recreation opportunities close to Whitefish, it also connects vital corridors on private land to larger swaths of public land. To date, Whitefish Legacy Partners has partnered to permanently protect over 6,000 acres of local land. These conservation easements support sustainable timber industry jobs, protect the land from parceling and development, and maintain the vibrant outdoor tourism economy of Glacier Country.
The community’s vision outlined in the Whitefish Area Neighborhood Plan and the Whitefish Trail Master Plan is to create a 55+ mile recreation loop trail around Whitefish Lake starting and finishing in Whitefish. To date, WLP has developed 47 miles of trail accessed by 15 close-to-town trailheads. Closing the Loop of the Whitefish Trail is a top priority for the community, and Whitefish Legacy Partners is leading the charge to complete the project.
Montana DNRC owns a continuous corridor of land (shaded blue) connecting the Beaver Lakes area, across the Whitefish Lake Watershed to Flathead National Forest and the Upper Whitefish Range. In early spring of 2017, WLP and the City of Whitefish submitted a proposal to the DNRC to purchase a permanent easement for 480 acres of permanent conservation surrounding Smith Lake and for a trail from the North Beaver Connection to the Swift Creek Trailhead. In early 2019, the State completed their environmental assessment finding ‘no significant impacts’ and allowing WLP to move forward with the project. WLP and project partners are completing additional due diligence for the project.
Swift Creek to Haskill Basin – Future
Connecting Haskill Basin to Swift Creek will provide a mid-slope corridor through private land, Flathead National Forest, and Montana State Forest. In 2019, Flathead National Forest approved the Taylor Hellroaring Project allowing for timber management, trail development including 3 miles of the Whitefish Trail, and habitat improvements to begin. WLP, the City of Whitefish, and private landowners will determine a route through various private parcels and work to secure necessary easements.
Connecting Lupfer and protecting Spencer Mountain – Future
Connecting community forests and our legacy lands remains a top priority for the local community, and securing a corridor through these landscapes will prove invaluable for both human populations and the local ecosystem. Trails at Spencer Mountain are currently under a 10-year license with the DNRC, and our long-term vision is to place the area into permanent conservation.