On Saturday, July 25, 2015, a crew of three of us set out for our first ride on Ingalls Mountain. The route started with a gorgeous singletrack climb on Trail 171 at the intersection of the Griffin Creek Road (Rd 538) and Road 2925. There is a large flat area for parking at this intersection. Most of this trail winds through a mix of logged hillsides and old forest fire burn area and the lack of trees on some sections provide jaw-dropping views of the surrounding ridgelines. Adding to the picturesque views are an abundance of native flowers such as fireweed, paintbrush and pearly everlasting.
The climb to the summit of Ingalls Mountain covers about about three miles of trail with about 1,300 feet of elevation gain. This section of trail is currently in good condition, although, we did have to stop and clear about 15 feet of overgrown bushes with a handsaw. We also cleared a few smaller trees that were across the trail, which was easy to do by hand. By the time we finished, the trail was clear of large downfall and no longer had long sections of overgrown bushes.
From Ingalls Mountain, we continued down Trail 171 for a fun, flowy single track descent for about one and a half miles. We took a left at the next intersection in the trail to head down trail 480. The descent continued with flowy single track for about 0.6 miles until we reached Road 2925. We crossed Road 2925 and continued down Trail 480 on what seemed to be an old road bed surface. The narrow single track flows down the mountain side and winds its way down wide, sweeping corners.
There are significant sections of the trail that have large mats of strawberry plants growing on the flat road surface on either side of the trail and could be delicious if hit at the right time of the year. This section of trail had some sections that were beginning to be overgrown and there were three trees down toward the bottom of the trail but all had ride-arounds.
After descending about 3.2 miles and 1,000 vertical feet from the intersection with Road 2925, the trail drops on to the Griffin Creek Road (Road 538). We took a left on Road 538 to head back toward the trailhead, descending for about 1.5 miles and then gently climbing for about 4 miles back to the intersection with Road 2925 and Trail 171.
There are a few different variations of this ride to switch things up a bit. One popular option is to continue on Trail 171 (instead of turning down 480) and descending down to Sylvia Lake before climbing back to the trailhead on Road 2925. We chose to explore the route that we did because it resulted in more single track descending on Trail 480 and it was worth it! The total distance of our loop was 14 miles and there was about 2,300 feet of elevation gain/loss.
To get to the trailhead, take Highway 93 north out of Whitefish for about 11 miles and take a left on Farm to Market Rd. After about 1.5 miles, take a right on Star Meadows Road. Stay on Star Meadows Road for about 17 miles and take a left on Griffin Creek Road (Road 538). Stay on Griffin Creek road for about 2 miles and Road 2925 (and the start of Trail 171) will be on your right. It takes about 50 minutes to travel to the trailhead from Whitefish.
Flathead Area Mountain Bikers, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is working to promote mountain biking and improve trail access in the Flathead Valley.