Two of the best-kept secrets in this part of the state are the North and South Lion lakes. To find them, follow the signs to the west side of the Hungry Horse Reservoir. Less than 5 miles after turning off of Mont. 40, you will come to a cutoff to the North Lion Lake and, within a hundred yards, arrive at South Lion Lake. Both are well protected, quiet, and for the most part undiscovered by tourists -- excellent for camping, picnicking, fishing, or swimming.
There is a road around Hungry Horse Reservoir, a 110-mile round-trip that you can start from the town of Hungry Horse. Hungry Horse is 9 miles south of West Glacier or 6 miles east of Columbia Falls on U.S. 2. This is an excellent drive for seeing wildlife. You're almost certain to see at least an elk, and maybe a moose or bear. It's also a great place for fishing.
Columbia Falls is home to one of Montana's best golf courses, Meadow Lake (tel. 406/892-2111; www.meadowlakegolf.com) at the Meadow Lake Resort. About 6,700 yards from the back tees, the course is very challenging, especially the greens, which are "speed sensitive" and have lots of nearly invisible breaks in them. The fairways are fairly wide but lined with intimidating large trees. Greens fees are $35 to $60 for 18 holes, depending on the time of year and day. Carts rent for $16 per rider.
Columbia Mountain, Glacier National Park, and the Jewel Basin are nearby, but the Great Northern is the grandpappy of 'em all in these parts. If you want a leisurely stroll with moderate difficulty, stick to the Danny On Trail on the Big Mountain in Whitefish. If you want 8 hours of hardship, then the Great Northern is for you. To get there, take U.S. 2 to Martin City, then turn onto the East Side Reservoir Road for 15 miles. At that point, turn east to Highline Loop Road, and from here you should be able to see the approach route. The hike goes up the 8,705-foot-high Great Northern Mountain in the Great Bear Wilderness. While there's not an official trail, enough people have beaten a path to the summit that one is clear enough to make out. This isn't a leisurely walk, nor is it the most publicized hike in the area, but it is the most rewarding for those willing to make the effort. The views of Glacier and the Hungry Horse Reservoir are remarkable.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.