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Trail Well Traveled – 12/21

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 you some helpful details and tips to get on your way!

This week, Craig highlights a trail in the southern Cabinet Mountains – a short, family-friendly trail perfect for hiking, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing during the darkest, quietest days of the year!

Round Trip: .9 miles

Total Elevation Gain: 0 feet

Directions: From Missoula, head west on Interstate 90 to the Wye and then exit north onto Highway 93 towards Kalispell. Just past the town of Ravalli you’ll see the turnoff for Highway 200 towards Thompson Falls. Take this exit and continue through Dixon, Paradise, Plains and even past Thompson Falls. Just a few miles past Noxon you’ll come across Highway 56.

Take Highway 56 north for 16.7 miles until you see the “Ross Creek Cedars” sign. Turn left here onto paved Forest Road 398 and continue another 4 miles to the trailhead.

Note: You will take a second left turn after 1 mile, but the road number doesn’t change and the intersection is well signed.

What to expect: Though only a 1-mile loop, you’ll want to plan an hour or more in order to have plenty of time for photos, reading interpretive signs, and pausing at the base of the giant cedars that line the way.  The path winds through some of the oldest trees in Montana, many of which are more than 10 feet in diameter and nearly 1,000 years old.  Stop for a picnic at the tables in the parking lot, or pause on the benches along the trail.

In winter:  From December 1 – May 1, a gate is closed to restrict motor vehicle access for the last 3.25 miles to the trailhead.  Parking is available at this gate.  This makes for an excellent winter adventure with a pleasant 7.5 miles up the closed road and then down to the parking area, where the 0.9-mile interpretive loop begins.  In most years, there’s enough snow to cross-country ski or snowshoe, but can often even be done in snow boots.  The grove seems especially silent in winter, making for a magical winter day trip.

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 9:45 am for the next featured trail and your chance to win!

Big thanks to Rangitsch Bros RV for sponsoring the Trail Well Traveled. Proudly serving Missoula for over 56 years, whatever camper best suits your needs Rangitsch Bros has got it!

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