A Guide to Our Top 5 Early Season Hikes in the Flathead Valley

by Haymoon Resort

A Guide to Our Top 5 Early Season Hikes in the Flathead Valley

by Haymoon Resort

We love Spring in Montana and early season hikes are so refreshing after a long winter! The birds begin to serenade us with their songs, the snow melts, the grass turns green, and the sun starts to shine more and more each day. The days also get longer which means way more daylight for outdoor activities, and Hiking is one of our favorite Springtime activities.

Haymoon Resort is the perfect place to stay for all your hiking adventures! All these early season hikes are within 10 to 20 minutes of the resort and will satisfy all of your hiking desires. So get ready to bust out your hiking shoes and check out some of these inspiring trails. It feels so good to get out in the fresh air and stretch your legs after a long winter.

Springtime in Montana offers hikers a unique and invigorating experience as nature awakens from its winter slumber. The snow-capped peaks begin to thaw, revealing vibrant green valleys that create a picturesque backdrop for outdoor enthusiasts. The sights and sounds of spring in Montana create an unforgettable hiking experience that will leave you longing to return year after year. Springtime is one of the best times to get outdoors for a hike, so we are excited to share some of our favorite early season hiking spots with you!

A Guide to Our Top 5 Early Season Hikes

1. Herron Park

Herron Park is a great hiking and mountain biking area located in Kalispell, about 20 minutes from Haymoon Resort. This trails system has adequate vehicle parking, pit toilets, picnic tables, and is family and dog friendly. The lower valley part of the park doubles as a horse park with cross country jumps and small riding arenas. The upper part is a system of trails for all levels of hikers and mountain bikers, including easy and moderate trails that lead to stunning views of the surround Flathead Valley. Even short hikes in this area lead to breathtaking overlooks of Kalispell and Foys Lake making this one of our favorite places for early season hikes.

Some of the most beloved trails in Herron Park are the Overlook Trail and Notch Trail, both offering a moderate trek that provides stunning views of the surrounding Flathead Valley. Along the way, you may encounter deer grazing in the meadows or catch a glimpse of a majestic bald eagle soaring overhead. For those seeking a more challenging adventure, the Boundary Trail and Chase Trail both connect to the Foys to Blacktail Trail that goes for miles and miles, eventually connecting to Blacktail Mountain in Lakeside. This is also a popular mountain biking trail.

As an added bonus, Herron Park is dog friendly. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a novice explorer, Herron Park promises an unforgettable outdoor experience that celebrates the untamed beauty of the Montana wilderness. Check out more information on Herron Park HERE.

Early season hikes in Whitefish Montana
Early season hikes in Whitefish Montana
Early season hikes in Whitefish Montana

2. Lion Mountain, Skyles Lake, and Beaver Lake

The trailheads for Lion Mountain, Skyles Lake, and Beaver Lakes are all easily accessible from downtown Whitefish, making them a favorite among locals and visitors alike. There are separate trailheads for these hikes, but since all the trails are connected, you can access this whole area from each trailhead.

The Lion Mountain trail starts off Hwy 93 N, just outside of downtown Whitefish. Here you can hike a 3 mile loop with a stunning stop at Skyles Lake Overlook. We love this trail in the Spring because it is moderately trafficked compared to the sometimes heavy traffic of Summer. This 3 mile loop is perfect for a quick run or hike, but if you are looking for a longer hike, Lion Mountain trail does connect to the Skyles trails, which makes for a fun out and back, allowing you to go as far as you’d like.

The Skyles Trailhead is about a mile further down Hwy 93 N near Skyles Lake. This trail offers quick access to sweeping vistas of the Whitefish Range. You will also likely see wildlife in this area in addition to varied terrain.

Early season hike in Whitefish Montana

Just a little further, the Beaver Lakes Trails offer a captivating outdoor experience for adventurers of all levels. Winding through forests and meadows adorned with wildflowers, these trails boast stunning vistas of the surrounding Whitefish Range, inviting hikers to immerse themselves in the beauty of the natural landscape. The network of trails provides a variety of options, from leisurely strolls to more challenging hikes with elevation gain, catering to both casual walkers and seasoned mountaineers. With 3 trailheads in addition to the Skyles and Lion Mountain trailheads, there are several great starting points for whatever experience you desire.

The Beaver Lakes Trails also serve as a sanctuary for wildlife, providing opportunities for visitors to view wildlife in their natural habitat. Along the way, hikers may encounter glimpses of deer, turkeys, and an array of bird species, adding an element of wonder to their outdoor excursion. Whether seeking solitude in the serenity of nature or seeking adventure amid rugged terrain, these trails offer an unforgettable journey through the heart of Montana’s wilderness without having to venture far out of town. These trails are dog friendly. Please always remember to be courteous as some of these trails do pass through private land.

3. Spencer Mountain

Spencer Mountain is personally one of my favorite trail systems, especially for early season hikes! This trail system has over 2,500 acres to explore and some of the most beautiful views in the valley. I like to park at the South Spencer Trailhead because this side is generally less trafficked, but you can also park at the Twin Bridges Trailhead next to Spencer Lake and it all connects. The Twin Bridges side offers fantastic mountain biking as well, and from both of these trailheads, you will hike through wooded areas, to stunning overlooks, meadows, and more.

Also situated just outside of downtown Whitefish, this network of trails provides a playground for hikers, mountain bikers, and trail runners seeking adrenaline-pumping experiences and breathtaking views. You will often see me post photos of me exploring these trails in early season with the horses. If you would like to go horse back riding in this area, the Bar W Guest ranch offers trail rides that often explore the Spencer Trails. As a bonus, this area is also dog friendly!

4. Ray Kuhns Wildlife Management Area

Kuhns as we call it for short, also known as the Pig Farm Trail System, is another great early season hiking option! The Kuhns Wildlife Management Area in Whitefish, Montana, spans over 2,000 acres of pristine wilderness. This protected area serves as a sanctuary for a diverse array of wildlife species, including elk, deer, bears, and countless bird species. Nestled amidst the Salish Mountain Range, the Kuhns WMA offers visitors a rare opportunity to immerse themselves in the untamed beauty of Montana’s outdoors while supporting crucial conservation efforts.

Beyond its ecological significance, the Kuhns Wildlife Management Area also provides a wealth of recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. Miles of hiking trails wind through dense forests and meadows, offering stunning vistas and the chance to observe wildlife in its natural habitat. Whether birdwatching, wildlife photography, or simply enjoying a peaceful stroll in nature, visitors to the Kuhns WMA can experience the magic of Montana’s wilderness while contributing to its long-term preservation.

We love to explore this area because it is so diverse. From meadows to lakes, to deep woods, to overlooks, Kuhns has a little bit of everything to offer. This area is dog friendly!

5. Columbia Mountain

Though you may not make it to the top of Columbia Mountain in Spring due to snowpack at higher elevations, this made our early season hike list because there is plenty to see along the way, including stunning waterfalls and streams. The trailhead for this hike is located about 20 minutes from Haymoon Resort. The turn off is an unmarked dirt road, so you should take the first right after the House of Mystery building. Follow this road until you see the Columbia Mountain Trailhead and parking area on the left.

The trail begins with a gradual ascent through dense forests, providing ample shade and glimpses of wildlife along the way. As you gain elevation, the forest thins a little, revealing panoramic views of the Flathead Valley and surrounding peaks. There are several trails that branch off to waterfalls and streams along the way, making this a fun early season hike, even if you don’t make it to the top.

The wildflowers and plants in this area are beautiful and the setting of this early season hike in the trees is truly aw inspiring. The majority of this trail is a bit of a climb, but has wonderful views of Columbia Falls, Whitefish, and other parts of the valley. If you are looking to challenge yourself a little in spring, this would be a great hike for you!

Tips for Early Season Hikes

Before you start your hike this spring, here are some things we recommend:

  • Pick up some bear spray, check out a video on how to use it, and have it accessible while hiking.
  • Make sure you dress appropriately and bring rain gear and some warm clothes with you in your pack, even if it’s a nice day. Even on the nicest days, you can experience rapid weather changes while hiking in the Spring, so it’s always good to be prepared. We recommend layers so you can adjust accordingly and also throw some gloves and maybe a hat or beanie in your pack just in case.
  • Respect the trails. If a trail is too muddy, consider picking a dryer trail. If you do need to walk through some mud, walk in the mud and not next to the trail so that you don’t damage plants.
  • Leave no trace. If you pack it in, pack it out. Do not leave trash anywhere and do not alter trails or surrounding areas in any way.
  • Share the trail. Yield to horses, announce yourself if biking, and be kind and courteous to others.
  • If you plan to bring your dog, please respect each individual trails’ dog rules. If you are allowed to let your dog off leash, please keep verbal control of them at all times and keep them within site.


Spring hiking is so much fun and a great way to get you out in nature and fit for Summer! Start your adventure by booking one of our cozy cabins or suites at HaymoonResort.org. Then you can pick one or more of these incredible hikes to check out during your stay. If you want more ideas on what to do, take a look at our activities pages HERE. As always, let us know if you have any questions, we are happy to help. We can’t wait for you to explore some of these early season hikes during your next visit!