Best Hiking Trails in Lolo National Forest
Lolo National Forest is a national forest in west-central Montana comprised of over 2 million acres. Its boundaries are not contiguous and it encompasses multiple cities. The supervisor's office is located in Missoula, along with one of the two visitors centers. This is an all season forest that boasts hiking and backpacking trails; snowshoeing, cross country skiing, downhill skiing, and snowmobiling; and even a "heritage training center" at the Ninemile Ranger District.
You can enter the forest at a variety of points- on Forest Service roads, by hiking or horseback riding in on trails, or via some major highways, such as 12 and 93. Some areas such as the Lolo Pass Discovery Center require a day-use fee (or season pass) in the winter.
When to Go
The forest is so extensive that there really is something for everyone. There are developed hot springs at Lolo Hot Springs (to find undeveloped ones make friends with the locals or buy a guide book), the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, and multiple historic cabins. You can bag Lolo Peak, one of the northern most peaks of the Bitterroots, or ski at Skibowl outside of Missoula. The opportunities are endless!
Permits are needed for a few places and activities (Lolo Pass Discovery Center, firewood cutting, etc.). Check at the visitor center for specifics.
You can find on-leash and off-leash areas within the forest for your dogs. Check at the ranger stations or at the trailheads.