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Trail Well Traveled – 12/16

Welcome to the Trail Well Traveled!

Each Friday, in partnership with Montana Wilderness Association we will feature a new western Montana trail and then give one lucky listener some cool goodies to help them embark on their journey!

Blacktail Mountain XC Trails – “Alpine” Loop

Groomed Nordic trails high above Flathead Lake!

Roundtrip: 7.5 miles

Directions: From Kalispell, take US Highway 93 south for 14.2 miles to the town of Lakeside.  Near the south end of town, veer right by the grocery store, then take an immediate left onto Blacktail Road, following the sign for Blacktail Mountain Ski Resort.   The first 5 miles of the road are paved.  As the road starts to ascend, it become a wide, well-plowed gravel road.  The parking area for the XC ski trails is 8 miles up the road, at a switchback, and is marked by signs and port-a-potties.

What to expect: Located 8 miles and 2,000 feet above the town of Lakeside and Flathead Lake, these trails are groomed daily from December through March for classic and skate skiers by the North Shore Nordic Club.   These high-elevation XC trails are especially good for early and late season skiing, or warm spells, when trails in the Flathead Valley may be too warm for fun skiing.

This loop combines the Main Line and Alpine Trails for a slow climb and exciting downhill, but there are additional options for those who want more than an 8.5 mile loop.  The area boasts a total of 15.5 miles of groomed trails.

The Main Trail is fairly level and provides views of the Powerline Trail.  At the junction with the Powerline Trail at 1.5 miles, turn right onto the Alpine Trail.  Alpine starts by ascending gradually, then a little more steeply, to the junction with the Spur Trail at 8K.  Beyond the Spur Trail, it’s slightly downhill, until the 10K mark.  Then the excitement begins, as the trail descends steeply down a series of seven switchback turns that will test a skier’s ability to snowplow through tight turns.

On a clear day, you can see Flathead Lake and Mary Ronan Lake from these groomed ski trails, but winter days are apt to be a bit overcast.

Tip: The last 5K of this loop gets mostly full sun, which can lead to sticky snow on a warm day.  Plan your departure time accordingly or bring glide wax!

Learn more about this trail, file your own trip report and photos, or check out some other great hikes at And don’t forget to tune in to the Trail 103.3 each Friday at 9:50 am for the next featured trail and your chance to win!

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