Sweeping vistas of the Flathead Valley and towering pine forest make Lone Pine State Park one of the most scenic state parks in Montana.
As spectacular as it is, the park is popular for more than just the scenery. Lone Pine State Park, which sits on the edge of Kalispell, has plenty of recreational activities to try. You can give everything from archery to snowshoeing a go at Lone Pine.
Lone Pine State Park Stats
- Lone Pine State Park covers a space of 270 acres (109 ha).
- The park ranges in elevation between 2,959 feet and 3,644 feet.
- The park was established as a State Park in 1941.
- Lone Pine State Park is open year-round, from 8 am until sunset.
- It is situated on the outskirts of Kalispell.
- The park overlooks the Flathead Valley.
- Amenities include toilets and picnic areas.
Lone Pine State Park Visitor Center
The visitor center in Lone Pine State Park is open all year-round, providing a space for education and general get-togethers.
A quick wander through the visitor center will teach you a great deal about the park’s wildlife and forest ecology. There are useful information points throughout the center. Besides education, the visitor center serves another purpose as a meeting area. The meeting room, with its audio equipment, and wrap-around decks, is perfect for social gatherings – the sweeping panoramas from the decks are spectacular.
You will also find a gift shop in the visitor center, which is now open all year round.
Many guided walks and events, like the beautiful May Wildflower Walks, use the visitor center as a meeting point.
Lone Pine State Park Overlooks
One of the biggest attractions to Lone Pine State Park is the stunning vistas seen from its overlooks.
Sitting high above the Flathead Valley, Lone Pine has some of the best views of any State Park in Montana. Distant mountain ranges, alpine forests; even Flathead Lake can be seen from the viewpoint.
Most impressive of all is that the viewpoint offers a glimpse of the Glacier National Park. Lone Pine is just close enough to be able to see the famous mountains to the northwest.
Though not technically in Lone Pine State Park, Foy’s Lake is so close that you could walk to it. The lake is only a mile away, and worth visiting for the pretty turquoise of its waters alone.
All the watersports you would expect – swimming, fishing, and boating – can be enjoyed at the scenic lake. It is an unmissable stop in the summer.
Take the time to wander through Lone Pine State Park on foot, and enjoy the lush pine forest and breathtaking views at your own pace.
Though Lone Pine only occupies an area of 270 acres, there are 7.5 miles worth of trails winding through the park. These pathways are very well maintained, with a number of signs and maps along the route to help keep you on track.
There are almost a dozen trails in the park. None of these are particularly long – though they can feel it, with a few steep inclines – but can be easily extended by following on from one trail to the next.
The longest trail is the Lone Pine Trail at 1.4 miles, while the shortest official trail is the White Memorial Loop, at 0.3 miles. All the hikes in the park are dominated by the dense pine forest. But as pretty as the forest setting is, it is the gorgeous views of the Flathead Valley that really make these trails worthwhile.
You can check out a full map here to get a better idea of the various trails throughout Lone Pine State Park.
If hiking feels a little too tame, two-thirds of those 7.5 miles of trails can be explored on the back of a mountain bike.
Adventurous visitors looking for a more exciting activity to try at the park will be pleased to know that the trails are suitable for bikes as well as hikers. You can enjoy the same scenic routes while speeding around Lone Pine as those walking, even if they do fly by a little faster.
Extreme thrill-seekers are likely to be disappointed if they expect adrenaline-pumping, highly technical trails. These routes typically fall on the side of family-friendly more than expert level, bar one steeper single track trail, which can be trickier.
Keep aware of the potential horses on the trail – staying a respectful distance away may help prevent the horse from being spooked.
If neither hiking nor mountain biking appeal, you could always strike out on a trail on horseback.
Horseback riding is woven deeply into the cultural fabric of Montana – when there’s even a slim possibility of horseback riding, people usually take it. It’s a popular option at Lone Pine, despite the fact the trails are relatively short.
Spectacular scenery more than makes up for the length of the trails. They’re best taken at a leisurely pace to really appreciate the Flathead Valley panoramas and peaceful scenery. Something to be aware of when riding a horse is that other people could be biking on the trail.
From the little songbird to the mighty eagle; Lone Pine State Park has recorded sightings of hundreds of different species of bird. It is an excellent, serene spot for the peaceful pastime – but this is no secret.
Bird watching is so popular at Lone Pine State Park that events and guided walks are arranged around it.
The annual Birds of Prey Festival has a small entrance fee but is always filled with people. It involves an early-morning bird walk, which leads on to a full day of ranger-led programs. The focus of the festival is clearly the birds of prey known to the area but also covers songbirds that are found within the park.
In winter the park transforms completely as the ground is blanketed with snow.
The park stays open all year-round, and a small fall of snow never stopped anyone in Montana from doing anything. Cross-country skiing takes the place of mountain biking for the sportiest visitors, but snowshoe rentals allow everyone else to enjoy the park on foot.
Lone Pine embraces a starker beauty in the winter, and snowshoeing gives people the chance to experience it without being knee-deep in snow.
They are available to rent from the visitor center for $5 per person, or $10 per family.
A more surprising activity available at Lone Pine is archery: this is the only outdoor public range for miles.
Archery is a sport growing in popularity. People travel for many miles to practice their skills in the only developed archery range in the Flathead Valley. There are currently six shooting stations at the range.
It is used so frequently that there are plans to purchase land in order to expand the course to 12 stations. You don’t have to be an expert to attend – courses for beginners take place at Lone Pine as well.
For more information on events and activities taking place at Lone Pine State Park, you can check out their official Facebook page.
Lone Pine Trail
This lovely woodland walk traverses 1.4 miles through the eastern side of the park.
The trail is perfect for any time of the year – even on the hottest days, the trees provide valuable shelter. Though the trial is short, moderate fitness levels are required. The uphill section of the walk can be tiring, but it is all worth it for the view at the top.
Big blue skies and distant mountain tops loom over the Flathead Valley. It is a truly spectacular view, made even more special by the glimpse of the Glacier National Park to the northwest.
Valley View Trail
As you might have gathered from the name, the Valley View Trail involves the same gorgeous views that make Lone Pine such a popular destination.
If you prefer to walk a shorter distance to the overlook, the Valley View Trail is more direct. It is only half a mile long but is situated in the northwestern section of the park: perfect for seeing the Glacier National Park in the distance.