Danny On Trail, Whitefish, Montana
A trail with spectacular views that is accessible by a chairlift.
Photos by Neil Malkasian
Danny On National Recreation Trail located in Whitefish, Montana on the Tally Lake Ranger District of the Flathead National Forest. It is by far the most popular trail on our national forest with approximately 15,000 people hiking the trail per year. Despite its popularity, it offers an aesthetically rewarding hiking experience.
The Danny On Trail extends 3.8 miles one way from the base area of The Big Mountain Ski and Summer Resort to its summit. Most of it winds through forests of Douglas-fir, western larch, spruce, and fir while crossing grassy ski trails full of summer wildflowers. In late summer, plentiful ripe huckleberries make for an especially pleasing hike. Along the trail and at the summit, hikers enjoy vistas of the verdant Flathead Valley below them and long-distance views of mountains of Glacier National Park; the Canadian Rockies; and the Bob Marshall, Great Bear, Scapegoat, and Cabinet wilderness areas. The view from the top is 360 degrees of alpine wonder.
The Danny On Trail is one of the few national recreation trails in the nation that can be accessed by chairlift. Hikers can pay a fee to ride the chair up and hike the trail down, or they may hike up and get a free ride down on the chairlift; of course, they may hike both ways for free. The Danny On Trail connects near the summit to other trails including the short East Rim loop (0.4 miles) and the longer and less-travelled Flower Point Trail (5.6 miles from base area to summit).
The Danny On Trail offers amenities at both its beginning and end. The base area where the trail begins has great parking, restrooms, shopping, and restaurants, while the Summit House offers all of these but the parking. The Summit House is also the location of the Forest Service's award-winning Environmental Education Center, which houses outstanding displays about plants, animals, and the geology of the area along with informative forest guides to answer questions. A stop at the Environmental Education Center is a pleasant way to end or begin a hike.
The Danny On Trail was dedicated as a memorial to Danny On, a Forest Service silviculturist 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.
The Environmental Education Center is located at the Summit House on top of Big Mountain. The center offers an educational experience, featuring a learning tree named Sally Snag. Some other features of the center are a wildflower display with guided walks daily, 20 different types of animal skins including a grizzly bear, mountain lion, weasel and mountain goat. The summer season runs May 24 through September 28.
Download a map of the Danny On Trail (pdf 350 kb)
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Updated July 6, 2012