What about Lupfer?
With summer in full swing, our most popular trailhead at Lion Mountain can be pretty busy. My early morning runs to the Skyles Lake Overlook rarely find any cars at the trailhead, but by 9:00 AM, the parking lot can be filled with dog walkers, mountain bikers, and trail runners. License plates reveal that nearly half the cars are from the Flathead Valley, a quarter are from elsewhere in Montana, and a quarter are visiting tourists from around the country and Canada. With SO many users coming and going from Lion Mountain, my mind has been thinking creatively about how to lessen the pressure on the trails, the trailhead, and each other.
- ♥ If I am mountain biking at Lion Mountain, why not start from town? The extra two-miles on the city bike path is a nice warm up before hitting the uphill single-track, and without my car at the trailhead, the parking lot is less congested. When I get to the trailhead, I am more conscientious of speed until above the family loop. When done with a long bike ride, I typically either take the logging road down from the Learning Pavilion OR slow down to accommodate walkers and runners. I can save my adrenaline for ripping down Maple Syrup at Spencer Mountain!
- ♥ When I take my friend’s dog for a quick run at Lion, I keep him on a leash at the trailhead until we are above the family loop. This hopefully keeps his excitement at bay until farther up the trail where other dogs and people are more spread out.
- ♥ When approaching others, I make sure that Rover is in voice control and let people know that we need to pass far in advance.
Lion Mountain is the busiest trailhead for a reason: access is easy and close to town.With only an hour break for lunch, sometimes Lion Mtn. is the only option for a quick outing on the trail. If my schedule is more flexible, however, I usually head to Beaver Lakes, Spencer, or Swift Creek where trail users are few and far between. In fact, here are some stats from my outings this week…
- ◊ Thursday 6:00 AM: trail run at Lion Mountain: 3.0 miles and only one mountain biker and one dog walker (only one car at TH).
- ◊ Saturday 11:00 AM: trail run from Smith Lake to the Swift Creek overlook and back: 6.2 miles and only saw 2 families along the Swift Creek Loop (no one from Smith Lake to the first Swift Creek overlook)
- ◊ Tuesday 9:00 AM: installing signs along Spencer Mountain Loop: 8.5 miles and only saw one biker in the freeride section to the north. (Did not see a single person outside the freeride zone).
I LOVE seeing trailheads buzzing with activity. A busy trail means the community and visiting tourists value the trail system and are recreating OUTSIDE! If the crowds at Lion Mountain have you scratching your head, take a look at our new TRAIL MAP and see if you can come up with another fun itinerary. Like….what about Lupfer? I have been there 4 times and have always enjoyed solitude along the 4 mile loop. See photos below.