The Little North Fork Trail is a short hike through the North Fork area of Kootenai National Forest that ends at a gorge through which a 50-foot waterfall drops into Little North Fork Creek. On a narrow trail made up of forest floor, dirt and crushed rock, hikers and their pooches cross a wooden bridge and climb an easy-to-moderately steep hill to the gorge and a spectacular view of the falls in their lush setting. Moss-covered boulders on the trail and beside the falls add to a sense of being somewhere far away in a rain forest. Wooden steps assist climbers up the steep path, but they too provide a challenge, not for the squimish pup! In spring and after heavy rainfall, the falls roar with the tumbling water, and the sound alone leads you to them.
Located in the extreme northwest corner of Montana, near the Idaho and Canadian borders, Kootenai features dense forest and views of high craggy peaks, along with abundant flora and fauna. Some of the animals that call the area home are bears (both black and grizzly), mountain lions, bighorn sheep, elk, moose and other large mammals. Almost 200 different species of birds have been identified here and they make their presence known with their birdsong and movement among the trees above your head. Smaller mammals forage in the undergrowth beside the trail.
Among the lush ferns, trees and undergrowth, you'll see several beautiful wildflower species such as fairy slipper orchids, columbine, violets, phlox and Indian paintbrushes. Cactus and succulents thrive nestled between the rocks protruding from the trail's soil. The trail is shaded by the dense forest, and in summer the small pool at the foot of the falls can provide a refreshing splash for you and your fur-baby.
While this trail is short, you may find yourself lingering longer than the time it gets to hike there and back. The other-worldly setting and soothing sounds of the falls amid the quiet surrounding you is alluring for both you and Fido.
During rainy seasons, the trail and rocks around it and the falls can become slippery, so watch your footing and wear boots with traction treads. Bears and mountain lions use the area as their habitat, so be watchful of your surroundings.