Old Flathead Ranger Station Trail Glacier National Park ~ a slow hiker's guide™

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Lake McDonald Trail Map

Old Flathead Ranger Station Trail


old flathead river  <li></ trail sign

There are a couple of ways to get to this trail. One would be to park at the stable at the start of the Apgar Lookout access gravel road and bike until you get to the trail sign shown on the right. The other would be to park at the trail sign there is parking for two small cars just off of the Apgar Lookout Road.

One creek crossing over plank bridge in deep ravine created by Rubideau Creek. Bridge is about a foot above trail. I walked my bike down the slope to the bridge. There were only a few muddy spots on this trail in mid June. Lots of wildflowers, including bear grass. The trail goes through the aftermath of the Roberts Fire of 2003. The fire in this area was set by the USFS as a successful backfire to protect Apgar Village area.

This is an up and down trail eventually coming close to the Middle Fork River which is below down a very steep, crumbly, rocky, sand slope. At this point the trail is essentially flat. In the distance you can usually see a difference in the color of the water from were the North Fork River becomes part of the Middle Fork River. The trail ends shortly after coming to the banks of the North Fork River with the bank identical to the description above for the Middle Fork. The bridge just after the joining of the two rivers is the Blankenship Bridge on Blankenship Road. Blankenship Road connects Hwy 2 with the North Fork Road.

A slow hiker's guide™ to Glacier National Park Wildflowers

Whitefish Pilot article on my iBook Wildflower Guide.


Trail maintenance stops at this point! For now the old base trail is still in fairly good shape but with the regrowth of thousands of trees in the ten years since the Roberts Fire the trail is now not bike-able. Currently a hiker could force there way pushing back the supple branches of the young trees but that won't last for long. Next time I bike this I will bring more water, and a stiffer jacket to facilitate getting through the trees overgrowing the trail at the point the trail reaches the North Fork River. Hopefully I will be able to get to a spot to get a good pic of the North Fork River.

This trail is through a forest that burned in 2003 so there is very little shade, bring extra water. On the National Geographic map for Glacier Park this trail shows as a dirt road. The edges of the trail are road width but have small ground cover. The trail itself is clearly more used for biking then hiking as it is on the narrow side for a hiking trail. Not a real issue as in the rare chance that you encounter another hiker or biker there is ample cleared area to both sides of the singe track.

This is one of Glacier Parks hidden gems, hidden in plain site!

A very fun biking trail, good exercise, nice views.

rubideau creek bridge

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things
that you didn't do than by the ones you did do.
So throw off the bowlines.
Sail away from the safe harbor.
Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream.
Discover.”
    Mark Twain


Middle Fork River
 glacier national park, Montana www.glacierhikers.com © Shawn Coggins

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