Winter Tracking Adventure

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Distance

3 Miles

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Elevation Gain

100 Feet

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Difficulty

Moderate

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Cost Per Person

$100

Hike Overview

February 25, 2023: Winter is one of the best times to experience the Crown of the Continent! Frozen streams, snow pillows, and abandoned trails all leave winter hikers with a sense of primal exploration. Join Garrett Tovey, the Director of Education for Glacier Institute on an educational hike discovering animal signs as we go. Winter offers us an insight into animal movements, more so than any other time of year. Learn to decipher canine, feline, mustelid, and ungulate tracks, as well as the reasons behind their movement.

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Winter Tracking Adventure

Hike Overview Continued

Winter is one of the best times to experience the Crown of the Continent! Frozen streams, snow pillows, and abandoned trails all leave winter hikers with a sense of primal exploration. Join Garrett Tovey, the Director of Education for Glacier Institute on an educational hike discovering animal signs as we go. Winter offers us an insight into animal movements, more so than any other time of year. Learn to decipher canine, feline, mustelid, and ungulate tracks, as well as the reasons behind their movement.

Meeting place: Glacier Institute main office: 320 Nucleus Ave, Columbia Falls, MT

Itinerary (subject to change): We will meet in the parking lot of the Glacier Institute main office at 9:00 A.M. From here we will take group transportation to some of the often-overlooked trails in the Flathead National Forest, stopping to analyze and discuss tracks and signs. We will finish at the main office parking lot by 3:00PM.

Food: Please pack a trail lunch, snacks, and plenty of water. We will spend the day on the trail.

Equipment: Most importantly are warm clothing layers (synthetic and wool materials only, cotton is NOT recommended), waterproof outer layers, comfortable winter boots, a warm winter hat, waterproof winter gloves, a trail lunch, snacks, water (we recommend at least 1-2 liters), backpack, and sunscreen. We will be on snowshoes for this course. Snowshoes will be available for rent at the meeting location, however if you have your own pair please bring them along. Trekking poles can be helpful for balance on the trail. Binoculars can be useful, as well as a notebook, and a writing utensil (ballpoint ink pens tend to freeze in the winter, pencils and sharpies are best). A small foam sit-pad can come in handy for our lunch break.

Weather: The weather in West Glacier is generally ~10 degrees fahrenheit cooler than in the Kalispell area, with a much higher snowpack to be expected. Expect cold temperatures, snow, and wind. It is always best to have extra layers than not enough.

Physical Requirements: Moderate. We will be snowshoeing at an easy pace along a mostly flat trail for up to 3 miles. We will stop to identify and discuss winter phenomena and animal sign, and may venture off-trail at times where “breaking trail” in snowshoes will be necessary.

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What to Expect On Your Winter Tracking Adventure

We will spend the day discovering animal signs on the trail. Learn to decipher canine, feline, mustelid, and ungulate tracks, as well as the reasons behind their movement.

Hike Details

  • This program meets at Glacier Institute Office at 320 Nucleus Ave, Columbia Falls.
  • The program will begin 9 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m. Please arrive 15 minutes early.
  • Hiking distance covers less than 3 miles with less than 100 feet elevation change.
  • Glacier National Park Vehicle Pass is required, you can purchase a pass at recreation.gov.</>
  • On-site parking is available.
  • There is a maximum number of 13 participants per trip.
  • This program has a minimum guest count of 3 people. In the unlikely case we don’t reach that number, you will be notified prior to the event.

What to Bring

Please remember that weather in NW Montana during all seasons can change quickly from warm and sunny to freezing at any time of the year. We recommend checking the weather prior to your trip. Please also check your course information sheet for specific gear requirements in addition to those listed below.

  • 2 liter sized water bottle or Camelback
  • Trail lunch
  • Day Pack with plastic bag liner or cover
  • Heavy fleece or wool pants (or waterproof snow pants)
  • Insulated winter boots and extra wool or synthetic socks
  • Camera (optional)
  • Trekking poles, if you like to use them for hiking (optional)
  • Binoculars (optional)
  • Field Notebook notes and sketches

Download complete checklist here