When the temperature drops in Great Falls, it’s time to get out and explore. Snowshoeing is an easy, low-impact way to enjoy winter, and some of the best spots are close by. Be sure to check the forecast, dress appropriately and bring extra food, water and gear to ensure a safe and enjoyable walk.
Silver Crest Cross-Country Ski and Snowshoe Area
Located just north of Showdown Ski Area, Silver Crest offers 2 miles of marked trails. From the parking lot, follow signage and red diamond markers to enjoy open meadows, woods, and views of Showdown. A great walk for first-timers.
Key Attraction: The generous parking lot with bathroom, marked trails, easy distances and great views make this a no-brainer for family outings.
Park at the Belt Creek Ranger Station about 7.5 miles south of Monarch on US 89. Cross the footbridge, pass the barn and hike for 2+ miles along the creek. Early sections are gradual but later stretches which climb hillsides above the creek are more strenuous.
Key Attraction: This trail offers solitude and shelter from wind, along with the sights and sounds of the creek for a peaceful outdoors experience.
North and Middle Peak
Located in the southern Highwood Mountains, the area east of North and Middle Peaks offers a scenic tour of open meadows. Drive Hwy 200 until 5 miles east of Raynesford; turn left onto Spion Kop Road (Rd 207), then drive north and east, turning onto Rd 201 and Rd 208. Park at the gate near the missile silo. Hike north on the road for about .5 miles and access trails and meadows to the west for good views of North and Middle Peaks. Off-trail navigation is required and some routes can become steep.
Key Attraction: The open scenery and views across to the Little Belts are easy to reach without huge driving distances. On a clear day, the Sweet Grass Hills may be briefly glimpsed more than 100 miles north!
The Rocky Mountain Front
The Front offers big scenery and bigger hikes, like Clary Coulee. From Choteau drive north 5 miles and turn left onto Teton Canyon Road for 21 miles to the trailhead on the right. From here the trail climbs switchbacks before heading north below spectacular Choteau Mountain. Hardy snowshoers can walk 4 miles or more, but the trail gains 2,000 feet in elevation over this distance—a substantial challenge.
Key Attraction: Views of Choteau Mountain’s cliffs are epic, but look south and you’ll see Ear Mountain in all its winter glory. It’s one of the most iconic peaks on the entire front.
Eric Heidle is a creative director at Banik Communications where he writes, designs, and photographs for a range of awesome tourism, agriculture, healthcare and financial clients. His writing has been published in magazines and literary anthologies, and his photos appear in Montana Outdoors, Backpacker, and elsewhere. He lives right here in Great Falls with his best gal Dagni and some cats, and when he’s not working he’s often outdoors trying to stay on top of cliffs, upright in kayaks, and ahead of the bears.