February Trail Report

If you are frustrated by the weather, just wait a few days!  This winter has been full of ups and downs. Sub-zero temperatures in December gave rise to increased snow and even some rain last week. Amidst the adverse weather conditions, 2,275 people accessed Lion Mountain during the month of January. That’s a slight increase above December’s 2,192 visits but a far cry from last August when 4,338 people utilized our busiest trailhead.

For comparison, only 321 people entered the Whitefish Trail at the Beaver Lake Trailhead during the month of January, and 595 visitors used the Swift Creek access. I would imagine Lupfer and South Spencer are even less. We are tracking trail usage along the Whitefish Trail to determine the economic impact of our community trail. We estimate around 80,000 users will access the four most popular trailheads in a year (we currently have 10 trailheads). The total Whitefish Trail system visits could be well over 100,000 people accessing recreation opportunities on local lands. This data will be compiled to demonstrate trends and usage, and this summer, we will be taking surveys to get even more details. Do you think the Whitefish Trail brings a positive economic influence to our community? We do, and we want to prove it. Headwater’s Economics out of Bozeman and the Whitefish Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (CVB) are partnering to complete the study. We are hoping to have the report finished in late fall of this year.

The trails are currently in an early spring cycle. Hard-packed, frozen trails in the morning give way to a softer snow in the afternoon. We don’t expect too much melting this week, so traction devices are still recommended.  You an probably get by without traction devices at Lion Mountain, as that trail sees the most use from walkers, runners, and fat bikers. Our dedicated Adopt-A-Trail crew from Summit Preparatory School cleared the cliff band at Lion Mountain  from snow and debris. Rollerballs and small snow slides had closed off this section of trail, and the crew spent a couple hours with shovels and elbow grease clearing the path (see photos below). Thanks!

As of last Friday afternoon, the Beaver Lakes, Swift Creek, and Twin Bridges trailheads were marginally plowed.  Crews are still catching up after last week’s snowfall. These trailheads are still accessible but parking may be limited. Lion Mountain has been plowed and still provides ample parking.

Also, aside from some road grading and slash burning, logging is officially complete at Spencer Mountain! We are looking forward to breaking ground on long-term improvements to the trailhead this summer, including better Whitefish Trail access and a vault toilet. Please let us know if you see any adverse trail conditions and thanks for reading.