Special Places: Mt. Hefty Lookout

Time spent being a lookout isn’t spent at all. Every day in a lookout is a day not subtracted from the sum of one’s life. -Phil Connors, Fire Season

Looking east from the fire lookout on top of Mt. Hefty, the mountains of Waterton/Glacier International Peace Park are breathtaking. The Crevice fire lookout, built in 1930, is no longer in use, but the view is timeless. Looking down at the wild and remote Flathead Valley, the Canada/US border stretches out before you as a double line cut through the trees. On the American side of the line, the Flathead Valley enjoys the highest protections, while on the Canadian side, logging and other industrial activity is common.

If you walk up to the lookout at the right time of year, you’ll see tall bear grass swaying in the wind and you might just happen upon a grizzly—the Flathead Valley has the highest grizzly density in the interior. The Friends of the Flathead have been working for decades to make sure this important landscape gets the protection it deserves. And it’s easy to see why from here. The lush valley bottom spreads out on either side, fed by the crystal clear Flathead River. Animals, like grizzly, moose and goats, roam freely through this valley, connecting to the Canadian National Parks in the north and Glacier park in the south. But the valley is more than just an animal highway, it’s a meeting place—of two countries, of four directions, of thousands of wildflower species, of different worldviews. If we don’t work together to protect the wild legacy of the Flathead Valley, the view from Mt. Hefty will look very different in the future.

Distance: 15.6 km round-trip (3 hours). Find out more about how you can help protect the Flathead Valley at flatheadwild.ca.