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Old Flathead River Ranger Station Trail

Easy/Intermediate

Trail

8.6 mile 13.8 kilometer point to point
99% Runnable
Easy/Intermediate

Elevation

Ascent: 389' 119 m
Descent: -472' -144 m
High: 3,423' 1,043 m
Low: 3,163' 964 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 2% (1°)
Max Grade: 15% (8°)

Dogs

No Dogs
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Trail shared by Jake Bramante

A trail through an old burn area with great spring flowers, birds and some nice river views.

Jake Bramante

Features Birding · River/Creek

Bring bear spray.

Runner Notes

Nice trail run with a couple of wet spots and can have a lot of downfall before trail crew clears it.

Description

Take the road to Apgar Lookout. After crossing over Quarter Circle Bridge, the road works its way along the Middle Fork Flathead River and briefly climbs. Before it turns north, you'll see the trailhead on the left side of the road.

The trail is an old road leading to the ranger station, so much of it is wide and level. You spend a lot of time bouncing in and out of a recent burn which makes for some nice forest birding. While you are close to the Middle Fork, you don't really get many views. Because of the fires, expect to encounter some downfall. Views of the Apgar Mountains are nice, but don't make for very good photos due to the standing burned trees.

You'll pass a couple of small feeder streams and then climb up onto a rocky outcropping before heading back down with a brief view of the river. Visitors will then enjoy a traverse that levels out through the open burn. You then come to the edge of a drop-off down to the river below with nice views. The trail continues from there to the old Ranger Station site, which was burned in the fire. From this vantage point, there are great views of the confluence of the North Fork and the Middle Fork of the Flathead River.

From here the trail travels through more burn, but also spends more time through older stands of trees. Water from a spring often floods a section of the trail which requires some tricky bushwhacking to keep your shoes dry. Beyond that, it's more of the same until you come to a section of inholdings that were parceled out, but never developed. An old burned log structure remains. From here you duck back into the forest until you come to the river.

The trail is most often done as an out and back to the old ranger station site. This is one of the few trails in Glacier that allows mountain biking and, now that they have kept up on some of the downfall, it's a doable affair, but can become a challenge with more being blown down all the time and the new trees encroaching on the trail.

This content was created by Jake Bramante of Hike 734. Visit hike734.com for more expert Glacier content and maps that help you decide which trail to hike.

Flora & Fauna

Forest flowers in the spring such as arnica. Birds are nice forest birds such as chickadees, woodpeckers and grouse. Most mammals are small such as chipmunks and tree squirrels.

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Trail Ratings

  3.0 from 3 votes

#20

in Lake McDonald

#19147

Overall
  3.0 from 3 votes
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100%
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Trail Rankings

#20

in Lake McDonald

#368

in Montana

#19,147

Overall
11 Views Last Month
705 Since Sep 2, 2015
Easy/Intermediate

33%
67%
0%
0%
0%
0%

Photos

View of the North Fork Flathead River joining the Middle Fork with Blankenship Bridge in the background along the Old Flathead Ranger Station Trail.
May 13, 2016 near West Gl…, MT
Trip video of the Old Flathead Ranger Station trail from west to east.
May 13, 2016 near West Gl…, MT

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