Welcome to the Trail Well Traveled!
Each Friday, in partnership with Montana Wilderness Association we will feature a new western Montana trail, give you some helpful details and tips to get on your way and then give one lucky listener a chance to win a pair of lift tickets!
We featured this majestic winter wonderland a couple times last winter, but since the cross-country skiing season has finally arrived in the mountains surrounding Missoula we can’t find a single good reason not to feature it again!
Packer Meadows Ski Loop at Lolo Pass
Located at Lolo Pass on the border of Montana and Idaho, Packer Meadows Ski Loop traverses a historical area visited by Lewis and Clark in 1805 on their journey to the Pacific Ocean.
Roundtrip: 5.3 miles
Directions: From Missoula, head south on Highway 93 to Lolo – turn right at the light onto Highway 12, and drive 33.7 miles to Lolo Pass. The visitor center is technically in Idaho – so don’t forget, that means the time turns back one full hour!
What to expect: There are two wonderful ski loops here – Glade Creek Loop and Packer Meadows Loop, which is the longer of the two.
The cross-country ski trail is groomed and located next to the Visitor Center. Put on your skis here. Follow the sign for the skier through the woods for about a quarter mile. Cross the Forest Service road and continue on following the well-marked trail. The first part of the trail is on the north end of the Glade Creek Loop.
After a half-mile you will cross Forest Service Road 373A and will be officially on the Packer Meadow Loop. After another 0.5 mile, you will cross Elk Meadows Road 373. This road is used by snowmobilers, so be careful crossing it. Go another 0.5 mile and cross Road 373 again. From this point on, you will not cross any paths with snowmobiles. There are lots of maps of the ski and snowmobile loops posted at junctions so utilize those if you forget a map.
Tip: Before you put on your skis, don’t forget to pay the $5 recreation fee and check out the recently renovated visitor center, which has a small museum, a gift shop with lots of books; and hot coffee, tea and cocoa. Grab a map of the trails too. Hours and days of the visitor center vary depending on the season.
Learn more about this trail, file your own trip report and photos, or check out some other great hikes at hikewildmontana.org. And don’t forget to tune in to the Trail 103.3 each Friday at 9:50 am for the next featured trail and your chance to win!
Big thanks to Rangitsch Bros RV for sponsoring the Trail Well Traveled. Proudly serving Missoula for over 56 years, whatever camper best suits your needs Rangitsch Bros has got it!