Packed Snow at Lion Mountain

Early December is about the time my running shoes become buried underneath heavy boots and ski gear.  Snow already covers the ground in Northwest Montana, and this time of year, thoughts of trail running in shorts and a t-shirt are long gone with the season.  After all, opening day on the ski hill is THIS Saturday!  While doing some cleaning around the house, however, I noticed those familiar red shoe laces seemingly hiding in hibernation at the back of my closet.  Feeling a little guilty for not stretching my legs in a few weeks, I dug out micro-spikes and headed down the driveway.

Luckily, the Whitefish Trail at Lion Mountain stays packed throughout the entire winter, thanks to a core of dedicated trail users.  Even after big winter storms, the trail soon becomes hard packed, allowing access for walkers and runners without snowshoes.  Lion Mountain is a trail runner’s dream this time of year, especially when local sidewalks become treacherous with uneven ice.

When I arrived at the trailhead around 4:00 PM, 8 cars were in the parking lot!  Walkers, joggers, a frenzy of friendly pups, and even a fat bike were enjoying the fresh dusting of snow and crisp mountain air.  I would say micro-spikes are not a requirement to enjoy the trail at Lion Mountain, but they certainly make running and walking a little easier (especially uphill!).  Keep an eye on the weather this weekend, however, as any rain will likely change the snow conditions.  With dusk approaching and light flurries flying, the view at Skyles Lake overlook was mystical.  If you have not made it out to Lion Mountain for a winter excursion, I encourage you to dig out those walking shoes and enjoy such a great community asset…ON the Whitefish Trail.