If you are visiting Whitefish, be sure to check out the Danny On Memorial Hiking Trail on Big Mountain. The trailhead begins at the Whitefish Mountain Ski resort village just behind the Hellroaring Saloon Chalet, and goes up the mountain for 3.8 miles to the summit of Big Mountain (or 5.6 miles if you include the optional Flower Point Trail in the hike), and at the summit you’ll find the Summit House (the highest altitude restaurant in Montana), where you can get a drink, a bite to eat, and take a breather after the hike.
The trail is considered difficult and has an elevation gain of some 2,250 feet.
Hiking at Big Mountain is one of the few places where you you have a chair lift option (May thru August). There are several different ways to do this hike, some hikers choose to hike up, and then take the chair lift down (our preferred method), or chair lift up and hike down, or you might chair lift up to the summit and hike East Rim trail (1 mile loop trail) and Flower Point Trail (2.8 mile loop trail), and then take the lift back down.
However you choose to do it, it’s a hike I’m sure you will enjoy.
Along the trail and at the summit, there are great views below of Whitefish Lake, and the Flathead Valley and beautiful wild flowers. You can also see Glacier National Park, the Canadian Rockies, and the Bob Marshall, as well as Great Bear, Scapegoat, and Cabinet wilderness areas. On a clear day you are treated to a spectacular 360-degree view.
The Danny On Trail was dedicated as a memorial to Danny On, a Forest Service silviculturist (forest ecologist) and renowned nature photographer, conservationist and avid skier on The Big Mountain. Danny generously gave his time to teach novices about nature, photography, skiing and forestry. Danny died at the age of 55 in a skiing accident on The Big Mountain.
More info on the Big Mountain trails and day/times that the Chair Lift runs can be found at the Whitefish Mountain Resort site