The Smith Lake Loop is part of the Swift Creek complex of the Whitefish Trail system. I recommend taking the trail counterclockwise in order to make the bulk of the climb on a hard packed two track.
From the parking area begin your ascent up the two track which slowly curves left towards Smith Lake. Open woodlands here are often full of Beargrass flowers in early summer. At the lake the trail becomes single track, following above Smith Lake for several hundred yards before a steep descent and climb through a small ravine. The trail then follows a ridgeline for approximately one mile before making a series of descending switchbacks and coming out at Lower Whitefish road. Turn left here, following the road downhill to East Lakeshore Drive. At East Lakeshore continue straight a quarter mile back to the initial parking area.
NOTE: An additional loop known as the Swift Creek loop is also nearby but I do not recommend taking the connector trail between the two loops due to an extreme off-camber stretch along the ravine through which Swift Creek flows. The risk of tipping into the ravine is extremely high and significant injury or death would be likely.
Trail Name: Smith Lake Upper Loop
Location: Whitefish, Montana |
Type: Narrow trail (< 30"), Start and end at the same point (Loop)
Rating: Adaptive Level 08
Steepest Section: Moderate – between 10-30º
Most Off-Camber Section: Moderate – between 10-30º
Terrain: Mostly hardpack, minimal loose sections
Obstacles: Root exposure, Brush and/or other growth, Baby heads and/or rock gardens, Ravines, drop-ins
Help Needed? Nope
Directions to Trailhead
The trail begins at a turnoff located on the north side of the at approximately 3650 East Lakeshore Drive, Whitefish. Park here in the small parking area or across the road if the trailhead parking is full.