There’s a lovely bridge along the hike and a modestly steep descent down into the gorge, but only half a mile of walking from the trailhead to get to the gorgeous, rushing waterfall.
The waterfall is a 50-foot drop into the Little North Fork Creek in the gorge, situated along the short, narrow trail of dirt and crushed stone. Wooden steps assist hikers up the steep path, along which the sound of the falls calls to hikers from a distance during spring and heavy rainfalls.
Little North Fork Falls, Lincoln County
When visiting Little North Fork Falls Makes sure to take time to enjoy the natural beauty along the way, with wild columbine, phlox, ferns, dense forest, stunning mountain views, and wildlife spotting.
Little North Fork Falls Stats
Traipse along the trail surrounded by moss-covered boulders and ancient trees to the waterfall tucked away in the extreme northwestern corner of the state.
- Location: Backcountry, Kootenai National Forest, Lincoln County, Montana
- Latitude: 48.7599585°N
- Longitude: -115.37573°W
- Elevation: 3,058 feet
- Stream: Little North Fork Big Creek
- Height: 50 feet
- Season: May to September is best
- Campgrounds and RV parks nearby: 20+ campgrounds and RV parks in and around Kootenai National Forest
Recreational Activities Around Little North Fork Falls
The dense forest of Kootenai, filled with lush green ferns, incredibly beautiful wildflowers, and wildlife that you’ll love spotting, all provide visitors to Little North Fork Falls and the Kootenai National Forest with many adventures to tell upon their return home.
The local activities in the area only add to that incredible experience, be it horseback riding, camping, or trail running in the forest.
Can you swim in Little North Fork Falls? Technically, you may find a spot to swim here, but it’s never recommended to swim in a waterfall. The reason is that waterfalls create an undercurrent that can grab onto you and sweep you away. Many swimming accidents happen at waterfalls.
Instead, choose a nearby body of water like Bull Lake, Clark Fork River, Fisher River Area, Koocanusa Area, or Tobacco Area. These have designated swimming areas where it’s much safer to swim.
Do be sure to swim with others, however, as there are no lifeguards on duty.
Boating is always a popular recreation activity within national parks and forests – and around Kootenai, that’s no different.
Called “Glacier Park without the Crowds” by locals and seasoned travelers in the area, Kootenai truly offers some incredible outdoor experiences, including great boating on Kootenai River and Barren Creek.
Bring your own boat or rent from nearby outfitters, including
Birdwatching and Wildlife Viewing
Throughout Kootenai, you’ll find a plethora of animals and birds roaming the forest. Coming around a corner on a trail, you could spot a deer or moose, or pika.
However, you could also spot some more dangerous creatures, so be sure to come prepared. Pack bear spray, a first aid kit, and other safety equipment, along with a GPS tracking device of some kind (your phone may work – but check your bars!), and extra food and water as you enjoy the trails in the forest.
Some of the animals you might spot include:
- Sandhill cranes
- White pelicans
- Great blue herons
- Black bears
- Brown bears
- American dippers
- Bald eagles
- Bighorn sheep
- Clark’s nutcrackers
- Common loons
- Northern hawk owls
With the stunning views, incredible lakes, and exciting wildlife you could spot throughout Kootenai, photography is a popular activity within the forest boundaries and nearby.
Along your hike to the waterfall or afterward along the drive-through, you could spot any number of incredible sights worth snapping.
If you plan to enjoy photography, be sure to bring the proper equipment like the camera and extra image storage, but avoid things like lighting, unless you’re a seasoned wildlife photographer and know the ropes in this area. Your lights would likely scare off animals and disrupt the natural environment.
Fishing on the Kootenai River is a popular option in the area. You can hire an outfitter or private guide to take you out to the best spots or make a multi-day trek of it.
Be sure to prepare for any trekking on your own with safety gear and at least one partner to accompany you along the way. Heading out into the forest alone is never a good idea for safety reasons.
Some of the best guides in the area include
- Kootenai River Outfitters
- Linehan Outfitting
- Kootenai Canyon Anglers
- Dave Blackburn’s Kootenai Angler
- Long Drift Outfitters
The Kootenai National Forest is a great location for off-road cyclists looking for gorgeous scenery and deep woods adventures. Many of the trails are exceptionally rated for cycling for all types of biking, endurance, or skill level.
If you enjoy trail running, you’re in luck at Kootenai. Many of the trails throughout the forest are excellent for outdoor running.
Many of the trails in Kootenai are perfectly suited for trail riding, so many outfitters have set up shop in the area. You can book partial-day, full-day, and multi-day horseback riding trips while you’re visiting the forest and Little North Fork Falls in Lincoln County, Montana.
Be sure to compare the different packages before you book, as many have add-ons and specialties that might make one company’s offerings just a little better for you than another.
There are many places you may camp throughout Kootenai National Forest and the surrounding areas. Within the forest, you’ll find dispersed camping in the Fish River and Koocanusa Areas. You’ll also find campgrounds, group camps, and RV camping dispersed throughout the forest.
Additionally, there are cabin rentals in and near the forest. Just be sure to book these early on, as they tend to fill up fast during peak season.
Hotels and Cabin Rentals
Lodging in and around Kootenai National Forest may be found easily, as long as you plan your adventures ahead of time and book early. The region is less well-known than Glacier National Park, but the hotels and cabins can still book fast during the peak season.
Some of the best lodging options in the area around Little North Fork Falls include
- Cozy Creek Cabin
- Heron’s Roost Cabin
- Sandman Motel
- Caboose Motel
- Evergreen Motel
- Country Inn Libby
- Riverfront Troy Cabin
- Yaakwards Log Cabin
Museums and Educational Programs
If you’d like to squeeze some education and culture in on your visit to Kootenai National Forest, you’ll be happy to learn there are plenty of intriguing museums and galleries around the area. You’ll find them in towns nearby like Libby or Troy.
Some of the most popular museums and galleries are
- Heritage Museum Libby
- Miracle of America Museum
- Hockaday Museum of Art
- Northwest Montana History Museum
- National Museum of Forest Service History
- Seeley Lake Historical Society and Visitor Center
- Montana Museum of Art and Culture
There appears to be only one distinctive trail that leads to Little North Fork Falls. There formerly was a longer trail that was severely damaged by flooding and washout at some point.
But the one short trail makes it easy for visitors of nearly all ages and many skill levels to visit the falls without too much difficulty or special preparation.
Little North Fork Falls Trail
The trail ends at the Falls, offering stunning views of the falls as you enter the gorge that drops down into Little North Fork Creek. The climb down is moderate and the short trail is overall considered easy.
The waterfall is in the middle of a temperate rainforest like gorge, with beautiful trees and plants surrounding the rushing waters.
It takes most folks less than 15 minutes to complete the hike one way to the falls. The trail is shaded and well maintained and generally considered suitable for kids.
Be sure to bring your camera and shoes you don’t mind getting a bit soggy so you can get up close and enjoy the falls.
- Distance: 0.5 miles
- Elevation Gain: 131 feet
- Difficulty level: Easy
- Trail type: Out and back