Swift Creek Winter Update

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mapThe last few days have been delightful in the Flathead Valley.  Although I prefer non-stop snow for 5 months (endless powder turns = less forest fires), a break in the clouds has reminded us just how much we miss the feeling of bright, warm sun on our faces.  I could not pass up the opportunity to get outside, and luckily running shoes were stashed in my car.  Swift Creek is a favorite summer destination on the Whitefish Trail because the huge trees offer solitude and a quick dip in the creek is usually warranted.

Although I would not be swimming during this visit, the old growth trees delivered the same solitude but this time with a touch of winter serenity.  The forest was exceptionally quiet as I stretched my legs.  Song birds, wood peckers, and even the gentle babble of Swift Creek were missing amidst the winter landscape.  What the trail lacks in adrenaline, it makes up for in beauty.  Completing the loop counter clockwise, with a visit to the Swift Creek overlook, will not disappoint.

The trail is in great shape with packed snow, and although I forgot my micro-spikes at home, I was able to run the mostly flat loop without trouble.  An early morning excursion, however, might be slick if temperatures drop below freezing, so be prepared to bring traction devices.  Either take a picnic and eat lunch above the river, explore the trail on a fat bike, or simply take Sparky out for a walk.

The plowed trailhead is 8.3 miles from downtown Whitefish continuing North on East Lakeshore Drive.  Be aware that on weekends, this parking lot is popular for snowmobilers accessing the groomed Lower Whitefish Road.  That Swift Creek solitude might be abbreviated by the occasional sled starting up the road.  During my visit yesterday, however, I did not hear a single snow machine.

I also stopped by the Beaver Lakes Trailhead and the first 100 yards of trail look the same as my last report two weeks ago.  We have not gotten any major snowstorms, so the South Beaver Loop is likely still in great shape.  I spoke with two fat bikers who rode all the way from town, and they both agreed.

Get out on the trail today before the rain starts falling this weekend.  Although some areas of the Whitefish Trail are hard to access in the winter, Swift Creek is open for year-round recreation.