The Puzzle Creek Trail (Flathead National Forest Service Trail 569.1) is a gated forest service road that penetrates deep into the Flathead National Forest offering a secluded ride and frequent views of Slippery Bill Mountain.
The trail begins at the end of Skyland road near the Morrison Creek trailhead. Pass underneath the gate blocking the road and follow the trail which climbs a small bench to views high above Morrison Creek below. Across the valley rises the west face of Slippery Bill Mountain.
The trail turns north and begins descending towards the creek. At approximately 1.0 miles into the ride, a small clearing to the riders right makes a great spot to veer off the trail and catch a glimpse of Morrison Creek. From here the trail makes a clockwise loop around the north end of Slippery Bill Mountain, passing a warming hut that is used for snowmobilers on this trail in the winter.
Just past the warming hut the trail crosses Morrison Creek and begins turning south. The Puzzle Fire in 2011 burned stretches of this forest, primarily on the east side of the trail. Fireweed blooms and standing dead timber covers the hillsides to the east, while surviving forest remains to the west of the trail.
As the trail continues a steady ascent, views of the more impressive east face of Slippery Bill Mountain come into view. The trail eventually reaches its terminus at a wide clearing in the woods. A narrow snowmobile trail continues from here, although handcycles will only be able to travel a further 50 yards before a brushy and steep ravine crossing brings the trail to an end.
At this point the rider has gained approximately 500 vertical feet over 4.3 miles, making most of the return ride a slow downhill coast.
Date ridden: August 13, 2017
Trail Name: Puzzle Creek (Flathead National Forest Service Trail 569.1)
Location: East Glacier, Montana |
Type: Wide trail (≥ 30″), Start and end at the same point (Out-and-Back)
Rating: Adaptive Level 4
Steepest Section: Mild – under 10º
Most Off-Camber Section: Mild – under 10º
Terrain: Mostly hardpack, minimal loose sections
Obstacles: Baby heads and/or rock gardens
Help Needed? Nope
Directions to Trailhead
From East or West, follow US-2 to Skyland road. Continue on Skyland road approximately 10 miles, following signs to Morrison Creek trailhead. The road continues beyond the trailhead towards the left but is gated. Find a parking location so you are not blocking the gate and begin your ride.
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