Parks, Trails & River Access

Columbia Falls and the surrounding area are trail rich, as the small communities are truly surrounded by wilderness and serve as gateways to the wild. In Columbia Falls, you can get river-side with a walk around 20+ acre River’s Edge Park and also on the trail network adjacent to a large treed playground at Marantette Park. A paved bike path connects the schools as well as the municipal Pinewood Aquatic Center. Several other playgrounds can be found throughout town, including tennis courts, baseball fields, a municipal pool, and an outdoor band shell.

Parks in Columbia Falls: 

  • Horine Park – 11 Beth Road – soccer field and play equipment
  • Maranette Park – 233 13th St. East – playground equipment, picnic tables, large grassy park. Gazebo area is available for renting for large group gatherings. Visit the City of Columbia Fall’s website for additional information on how to rent/reserve the facility.
  • Pinewood Park Aquatic Center: 925 4th Ave West- public swimming pool, playground, and picnic area.
  • Rivers Edge Park – located along the bank of the Flathead River, this community park is dog friendly (leash only), hiking trails, fishing pond. Family friendly. Located 5th street east, Columbia Falls.
  • Important Information: Groups of 25 or larger must be issued a special use permit from the City of Columbia Falls.  Additional information and special use permit application can be found on their website.

River Access Suggestions: 

Just before exiting the east end of the city of Columbia Falls on Highway 2 is the Teakettle river access. Upstream from here are several more river accesses, including House of Mystery and the South Fork Bridge. Upstream are three forks of the Flathead River, the North, Middle and South Forks. Each flows from a pristine place in the wilderness of Montana. Head downstream to the next access point at Kokanee Bend. From here the river is wide and braided as it makes its way through the farmlands to Flathead Lake .

Local Hiking/Biking Trails – Columbia Falls to Lake McDonald Area

  • Apgar Bike Trail – Trailhead – Apgar Village – this easy level trail accommodates hiking, bikes, strollers and wheelchairs. The trailhead is located across from School House Gifts in Apgar and ends at Park Headquarters.  3.3 mile
  • Apgar Bike Trail – Trailhead – Apgar Village – this easy level trail accommodates hikers, bikes, strollers and wheelchairs. The trailhead is located across from School House Gifts in Apgar and ends at Park Headquarters.  3.3 mile
  • Belton Bridge Trail:  Trailhead – Park at the Belton Bridge and cross bridge then the trail is on your left. This trail will either come out at the W.G. bridge or connect with South Boundary Trail. Trail follows the Middle Fork/Flathead River. Easy hike. 3200’ elevation
  • Columbia Mountain Trail: This trail has moderate usage with hiking, biking, horses and dirt bikes. It is a difficult trail but rewarded with breathtaking views and a lake. Trailhead: 3.5 miles East of Columbia Falls, turn right on unmarked dirt road 0.2 miles from House of Mystery, turn left to parking lot and trailhead. 11. 8 miles, 4993’Elevation
  • Gateway to Glacier Trail:  This paved 12-mile bike/hike trail is easily accessible. You will go through the communities of Hungry Horse, Coram and West Glacier. This trail offers incredible scenery with the safety of a bike trail.
  • Johns Lake Loop – Pleasant walk through a mossy forest, arriving at Johns Lake, a small quaint lily pad covered lake. Continue on past McDonald Creek, experiencing two waterfalls. Cross Going to the Sun Road continue on to the horse bridge over looking Sacred Dancing Cascade. Cross bridge, go left on the trail along the creek, the path forks take the left fork following along the creek until you pass McDonald Creek Falls. Follow the trail to north McDonald Road, cross bridge and follow trail on south side back to your car. 1.9 miles – 160’ elevation.
  • McDonald Creek Loop – Short stroll along McDonald Creek. You’ll pass through burned and unburned forests that open up into small meadow. Level easy hike. Trailhead is located southwest side of McDonald Creek Bridge. 1.8 miles
  • Rocky Point Trail – Glacier National Park – great short hike for all ages, starting in forested area opening up with awesome views of Lake McDonald. Access trailhead either at Fish Creek Campground/Picnic area or the inside North Fork Road. 1.5 miles – 200’ elevation

Local Hiking/Biking/Picnicking – Columbia Falls to North Fork Area

Head north out of town on the North Fork Road (Forest Service road 486) towards river accesses at Blankenship Bridge, Glacier Rim, Great Northern Flats and several others along the North Fork Flathead River, all the way to Polebridge and the Canadian border. Along the way are two entrances to Glacier National Park and numerous trail heads on both Forest Service and National Park lands.

  • Big Creek Ranger Station/Historic District – camping, fishing, picnicking – 27 miles N on North Fork Road
  • Covey Meadows – Inside North Fork Glacier National Park — 1.1 miles, 150’ elevation (located just past the Polebridge Ranger Station). Turn right on North Fork Road the trailhead is immediately to your left. This short walk through small stands of Lodge Polls revealing this lovely meadow.
  • Glacier Rim – North of Columbia Falls – fishing access and picnic area – 10 miles N on North Fork Road

Check out the Flathead National Forest website and/or Glacier National Park website for additional ideas! The opportunities are endless.