Bigfork - Whitefish Bike Retreat
Swan Mountain Range Trails
Most of the trails you will find on the Swan range are steep, narrow, primitive and technical in nature. On these trails you will have to put out some effort to reach the top with most riders finding the up-hill grade is more of a "hike a bike" than a ride. Most of the trails reach the top of the mountain range and meet-up with the Alpine #7 trail which is one of top 10 rated trails in the nation for difficulty and beauty. If you are looking to get away from more populated trails, have a more technical down-hill ride and find solitude, these trails are for you.
Beardance Trail #76
The Beardance Trail (76) is the premier trail close to Bigfork and offers a variety of riding opportunities as it can be ridden as an out-and-back, a loop, an extended all-mountain ride, or shuttled.
The trail starts out on an easy up-hill grade for 1.7 miles, then it's time to put on the pads. This trail has great flow and enough challenge to keep you on your toes. In the summer the trail gets narrow from the brush and adds to the intensity of the ride. The trail side-hills till you reach the intersection with Crane Creek Trail (314), then it switchbacks as the trail gets steeper for the remainder of the ride. You'll pass the Phillips Trail (373) but it's no time to relax with some of the best down-hill to come with a techie rock-garden, a sharp right-handed switch-back with a drop in the middle of it, and a challenging root drop to finish.
No matter how you ride this trail it will leave you with a smile on your face and wanting to do it all over again.
Alpine Trail #7
The Alpine Trail #7 has received a lot of press and is considered to be one of the top 10 trail rides in the US and as well as one of the toughest 10 rides in the US. This is the epitome of an epic wilderness mountain bike trail. The trail is broken into a northern half and southern half which is separated by the Jewel Basin hiking area. Bikes are strictly prohibited in the Basin area. Napa Point is the start of the southern section of the Alpine Trail. The trail climbs to Inspiration Pass and follows the ridge above timberline north, before descending to the town of Swan Lake. This southern section is 27 miles in length and includes a few hike-a-bike sections and some exposure around technical parts of the trail. The trail is for advanced to expert riders. The northern half of the Alpine Trail is 24 miles with more climbing (6,600 feet) than the southern half. Climbing begins immediately at the Strawberry Lake trailhead. Strawberry Lake and Lamaze Lake offer scenic views on the mostly wooded trail. Around Doris Mountain, views open up and you see some magnificent views of Great Northern Peak and Glacier National Park. The northern end of the trail switchbacks down to the town of Columbia Falls – switchbacks which seem endless.
Both the North and South halves of this trail are for experienced riders only; allow 6 to 8 hours of riding time and be prepared for any type of weather at any time of the years. This is a trail where going over prepared is recommended.
Other Swan Mountain Range Trails
The following list includes other singletrack trails located in the Swan Moutain Range worth exploring, each offering a different experience and level of riding.
Bond Creek # 21
East Foothill Trail # 192
Hall Lake # 61
Napa Point Trail # 31
Peterson Creek # 293
Phillips Trail # 373
Six Mile Trail # 10
Strawberry Lake # 5
Switch-back Trail # 725
Wire Trail # 78
Wolf Creek (also known as Echo Broken Leg) # 544
Specific trail details, maps, directions and more information are available at the Whitefish Bike Retreat.