Simply put, Swift Creek is a gem. After an extremely long day, I decided to make the 8 mile drive along Whitefish Lake to the trailhead. Normally on the Whitefish Trail I am either strapping on my bike helmet or putting on my trail running shoes, but not today…I was too tired. Plus I only had flip flops to wear. As I left the empty parking lot, the forest immediately took over my senses. This is the only section of Whitefish Trail that enjoys meandering through old-growth, mature trees. The Larch trees that dot the trail are some of the biggest I have ever seen, and there are even a couple monster Ponderosa Pines reaching towards the sky. The loop trail is mostly flat with great tread (wide enough for a stroller), and is the PERFECT place to unwind. I could not remember the last time I simply walked through woods! The smallest details came into mind as the towering trees demanded my presence. Treasure-hunting wood peckers tried their best to pry away old bark, the gentle babble of Swift Creek occasionally filtered through the undergrowth, and the treetops far overhead gently swayed in the hot afternoon breeze.
This section of trail is undeniably unique. Not only is the forest one of a kind, but the overlook leads trail users to a crystal clear river that would tempt anyone for a swim. Nowhere else on the Whitefish Trail is there a river. Word of caution at the overlook: the bank is steep and eroding so stay clear of the edge. From the loop, it is another two miles (out and back) to Smith Lake. Take a fishing rod and try your luck on the south side of the lake. When I swam across with my goggles, there was a school of trout darting through the grass.
If you have not been to Swift Creek, I encourage you to explore the area. Even on a hot day, the forest seems to hold the cool air escaping from the creek. The trail is in great shape and would be the perfect place to take the toddlers on their first off-road bike trip.