Flathead Valley Cycling in Glacier National Park

Oodles of two-lane highways and paved country lanes make long loops around Flathead Lake or short farmland tours for roadies, and there are many single-track and dirt-road choices for mountain bikers. For the best list of itineraries to suit your interests and abilities, check Glacier Cyclery’s website for popular area routes. The shop also maintains a ride board with recent trail updates.

Several routes descend from the summit—the easiest is via switchback traverses, while the others drop on steep, hair-raising downhill descents.In Kalispell, the Great Northern Historical Trail runs 12 miles of paved bike trail from Meridian Street to Smith Lake in Kila. You can stop partway for lunch at Kila’s Cottage Inn (4220 U.S. 2 W., 406/755-8711). Another 12-mile segment links Meridian with Somers, where you can lunch at the Somers Bay Café (47 Somers Rd., 406/857-2660) and enjoy Flathead Lake. Find trailhead parking for both at Meridian Road and Derns Road.

Cyclists ride up a gravel path in a pine forest.

While you can mountain bike on some trails in the national forests, biking is not permitted on trails in the wilderness areas or in Glacier Park. Photo © itman47/123rf.

In Whitefish, the expanding Whitefish Trail, at more than 25 miles, provides a curvy, multiuse dirt single-track trail with fun terrain for mountain bikers. Current maps to trailheads can be found at Whitefish Legacy Partners. For single-track lift-served mountain biking, Whitefish Mountain Resort (end of Big Mountain Rd., Whitefish, 406/862-2900, late June-Labor Day) hauls bikes and riders up its chairlift ($14-28, depending on your age and duration). Several routes descend from the summit—the easiest is via switchback traverses, while the others drop on steep, hair-raising downhill descents. Natural obstacles put both trails into the “have some experience first” category. Whitefish Mountain Resort has bicycles available to rent ($30-65).

Bike Rentals and Repairs

Flathead Valley also has multiple bike shops that rent, sell, and repair bikes. In Whitefish, Glacier Cyclery (326 E. 2nd St., 406/862-6446) rents touring bikes, roadies, hybrids, and mountain bikes ($35-55 per day). They can also equip you with car racks ($20 per day), utility trailers ($30 per day), and Burleys ($20 per week). In Bigfork, the new Montana Adventure Sports (439 Electric Ave., 406/837-3232) rents mountain bikes ($35-45 per day), convenient for touring Swan Valley. In Kalispell, closest to the rail trails, Sportsman (145 Hutton Ranch Rd., 406/755-6484) rents mountain and road bikes ($40 per day). All three shops include helmets with rentals, offer weekly rates, and do repairs.

Excerpted from the Fifth Edition of Moon Glacier National Park.

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