Early April Trail Report

My early morning runs to the Skyles Lake Overlook have finally resumed after a long winter’s break. This week, as I jogged through an empty parking lot at Lion Mountain, a rafter of of wild turkeys woke up from their tree-top roost. Clumsy birds dropped, glided, and crashed out of the canopy, gobbling all the way down to the ground. It’s the time of year when wild animals are on the move…bears are emerging from cozy dens, tom turkeys are flaunting feathers, and ground squirrels are scurrying from trunk to trunk. People are also on the move. In the past two weeks, I have noticed the seasonal up-tick in bikes headed to the trailhead, and trail usage has increased dramatically.  Lion Mountain visits increased from 2,620 in February to 3,399 visits in March, and we suspect that April will see an even larger increase in usage. People are out exploring our local landscape, stretching their legs and their minds after four months of snow covered ground.

Our community trail is now 95% snow free. A few stubborn snow drifts in shady and north-facing aspects still exist. For example, Swift Creek has enough shade from old-growth trees that snow is more prevalent, but from the Lion Mountain Trailhead to the Two-Bear road crossing, the trail is 100% melted out. That gives trail users and pups 3.2 miles of actual ground to walk, run, or ride. We are blessed with both amazing, inorganic sub-soils AND amazing, skilled trail designers. The Whitefish Trail dries out faster than most other Flathead Valley trails because perfectly built dip drains are keeping the tread water-free.

The boulder on the Skyles cliff band was removed by a mystery volunteer last weekend, and Montana Conservation Corp performed some re-tread training at Spencer and Lion Mountain last week. Thank you for the effort! We are so blessed to have a community of volunteers who help maintain our local trail system. Adopt-A-Trail crews have started their spring work days, so if you see a downed tree or trail damage, let us know.

The Haskill Basin ground breaking ceremony will happen on Tuesday, May 9th from 5-8 pm at Bonsai Brewing Project. Shuttles will leave Bonsai Brewing Project for a ground breaking ceremony at the new Lower Haskill Trailhead starting at 5:15 pm. After the ceremony, shuttles will return to Bonsai Brewing Project for a celebration party and Pint Night. Come ask questions, check out project maps, and learn about plans to finish the Whitefish Trail. We would love to see you there!