Looking for an easy, beautiful and fairly hidden spot in western Montana? Look no further – Kootenai Falls is perfect!
Kootenai Falls National Forest is located about 10-15 minutes away from Libby, Montana, where my family and I recently visited. It’s a popular spot for tourist and locals alike, and is a fairly easy hike. There’s a little gift shop and bathrooms at the entrance. It’s free to visit as well.
We visited in early August so it was quite busy, but the weather was perfect. I heard that the river and falls were the lowest they’d been all season since it was late summer, but there was still a rushing wave of water on the bridges and in the river.
This hike is short, about 1.6 miles out-and-back, according to AllTrails. I mentioned earlier that this hike is fairly easy, however, I will add the caveat that you do have to go up quite a bit of stairs to get up and over the train railway and up to the swinging bridge. I would be sure to wear proper footwear and be weary of anyone with bad joints and issues with mobility. There are a few spots where you have to go around roots and boulders, and go up/down a steep incline.
Once you get almost all the way to the falls, there’s a fork in the road – you can go left to the swinging bridge and farther away views of the falls, or to the right and get up close and personal with the raging wall of water. I chose left first since I love bridges, especially swinging ones.
The bridge is just over 200 feet long and rests 100 feet above the Kootenai River, with stunning views of the river, falls and surrounding woods.
You can continue on this trail and make your way down to a little beach area. Dip your feet into the frigid glacier water if you dare! The water from this river comes all the way from Canada, which is about 75 miles north of Libby. I would caution against going too far deep into the water – the current is very strong and there’s lots of riptides/vortexes.
When you take the trail to the right, you’ll make your way closer to the falls. There are many, many viewing areas of the falls where you can go off trail and take beautiful photos. I imagine that it’d be a stunning spot for professional photoshoots!
There’s no barriers at this park, so you can go right up to the falls and climb the rocks – although I’m not condoning it and please, please be careful. I had to talk a family member out of climbing a particularly risky spot and/or getting into the water near a vortex.
My family and I spent about 2.5 hours here, although I’m sure that you could do it faster since we stopped to take a lot of photos. There’s also a bunch of other hikes in the park, if you’re interested in more hiking.
Overall, I 100% recommend this as a road trip stop if you’re in the area! It’s family and dog friendly, and doesn’t take too long or too much energy.
Thank you for reading! Have you ever visited Kootenai Falls? Let me know in the comments below and like this post if you want more like it!