For those of you who have not ventured onto the trails at Spencer Mountain this year, lots has changed. Although the timber sale has not drastically changed the existing trails at North Spencer, the ambiance has certainly been altered in locations by the cleared trees, giant wood piles, and additional logging roads. Construction has started on the North Spencer Trailhead, just off Twin Bridges Rd and Hwy 93, and we are excited to develop and finish the 8 mile loop of the Whitefish Trail this summer and fall. The South Spencer Parking will be off Rifle Range Rd. and will provide access to both the eastern and western loop trails. Both sections will travel north for roughly 4 miles and connect to the North Spencer trailhead mentioned above.
In preparation for National Trails Day, we decided to scout the South Spencer section for potential damage caused by the timber sale. A word of caution for those attempting the entire loop: because we are still developing this section, it has not been signed. There are several trail and road intersections that were confusing to us, even with a GPS unit in hand! Good navigating and direction skills are a must until we get the signs installed. It’s a true adventure out there right now!
As we rode the east loop headed north, evidence of the timber sale became more prevalent. Small trees and brush sporadically covered the first 1/2 mile of the trail. You will have to dismount a bike to clear the occasional debris and overgrown section, while those on foot will have an easier time. After the work day this Saturday, this section should be cleared. We then gained elevation to the ridge top and a beautiful scene of green grass thriving in a grove of sparse larch unfolded. Enjoy this section as you meander through rock outcrops and eventually drop off the ridge in true Spencer fashion. These trails definitely have a certain personality. They tend to be steeper and a little more aggressive than Lion Mountain, definitely born from a long history of dirt biking. The new 8 mile loop of the Whitefish Trail at Spencer Mountain is a perfect hybrid between both styles.
A couple more miles brought us to a brand new logging road that was built right on top of the existing path. The trail literally meanders underneath the newly made road and only occasionally pops out on the western flanks of the debris piles (see the photos for current conditions). We are so excited to route the new path and install directional signs this summer!
As we rounded the North Spencer section and turned south, the free ride trails, manage by Flathead Fat Tires, started crossing the road again. Trails such as Otter Pop and Maple Syrup have not changed, but unless you know these junctions by heart, they may be difficult to locate until we get the signs installed. The western loop contains a brand-new, recently-cut trail that contains some of the best views at Spencer. The vegetable rows at Two Bear Farm can be seen from the ridge top, and the views towards Tally Lake are outstanding. This section would be dramatic at sunset.
Connecting back to the South Spencer Trailhead was difficult. The path winds through more timber sales and crisscrosses with other trails. Using a GPS and map, we were able to connect back to Rifle Range Rd, but until the signs are installed, this last section will be confusing.