Flathead Lake, northwest Montana’s crown jewel, beckons visitors to engage in endless outdoor activities while soaking up the stunning scenery. One of the largest natural freshwater lakes in the United States, the lake has a magical quality that leaves travelers with memories they will treasure for years to come.
There are many ways to enjoy Flathead Lake, and a great way to do so is on a boat. Those visiting without their own boat can rent one at a local Bigfork area rental company, or join a guided tour that will provide the opportunity to explore the lake. Tours will often stop on Wild Horse Island and the historical “Painted Rocks” as well as explore the shoreline architecture, pristine beaches, the islands, and even the enchanting ponderosa pine forest.
If you prefer to get out on the water by foot, the paved Flathead Lake Marine Trail is a fantastic way to enjoy the lake. This trail offers both novice and experienced kayakers the chance to explore the many coves on the lake. The trail features routes that travel through rocky water less shielded by trees, which is better suited for experienced kayakers, while the other routes are closer to the shoreline with forested terrain keeping the water calmer, ideal for beginner kayakers.
Those who prefer to stay on land can also find numerous trails within the many state parks located around the lake. A popular trail is the Whitefish Peak Trail that leads hikers to a mountaintop where they can take in the views of Flathead Valley and Flathead Lake as well as the majestic landscape of Glacier National Park. Other trails wind through the alpine environment to a chain of backcountry lakes teeming with fish, and some even reach as high as Flathead Glacier.
While on land, it is a must to visit the nearby Flathead Lake Brewery. This brewery is located just outside of Big Fork and is a perfect spot to sample some Montana craft beer while enjoying the beautiful view that overlooks Flathead Lake.
The summer is a fantastic time to visit Flathead Lake as the weather is warm and the lake is at its most scenic with a dazzling blue color. The extended spring season that stretches into April, May, and June is another good time to visit as the water temperatures are still warm enough for swimming but the crowds have not yet arrived.
During the winter, visitors can ski on the alpine mountains surrounding the lake at Blacktail Mountain Ski Area and Whitefish Mountain Resort. They can also explore the hundreds of miles of trails in Glacier National Park and Flathead National Forest on cross-country skis to truly experience the wonder of Flathead Lake. Those who love to fish will thrill at the chance to do some old-fashioned ice fishing on the lake, and those who prefer snowshoeing can traverse the countryside and soak up the stunning scenery at a much slower pace. flathead lake tours