This popular trail in Flathead National Forest offers a terrific reward at the end of a moderately challenging hike up a steep hillside. Located less than an hour away from Kalispell, Montana, this trailhead offers a huge challenge at the very beginning: parking. We finally found a spot in a pull-off a quarter mile away from the parking area.
Every inch of this hike is gorgeous. You start out hiking steep, tree-shrouded switchbacks, catching glimpses of Flathead Lake, several mountain ranges, the verdant Flathead River Valley, and brilliant yellow canola fields near Kalispell.
This hike gives you a huge bang for your buck. If you don’t have a lot of time, it’s a terrific way to sample the best that western Montana has to offer. The trail offers a little bit of everything. Gorgeous granite hillsides, dark green stretches of pine, fir and spruce, riotous color bursts of wildflowers, and even a couple of waterfalls on the way up to the lake. Our German Shepherd loved this hike, especially the icy waterfall spilling into a clear, cool pool.
Strawberry Lake is framed by evergreens, wildflowers, wild strawberry plants and grasses, punctuated by a few well-placed rock formations to create a hilltop vista that looks like a Jon Crane painting. The lake feeds a waterfall that’s picturesque as well. If you like to fish, a folding rod could net you decent-sized lake trout.
Hiking back down the mountain seemed like a different hike, even though it was an out and back. The perspectives change enough that your landscape is always changing – and always a treat.