Montana’s Needle Falls: Hiking and Activities Guide

Needle Falls in Montana is like an untouched paradise. This 120-foot-tall waterfall is fed by the White River in Lolo National Forest. It’s a hidden wonder in Flathead County, near the town of Great Falls.

The journey to Needle Falls is an adventure. There are two paths: the White River Trail and the Needle Falls Overlook route. Both offer unique challenges and scenic views. The lack of detailed information adds mystery to the trek, perfect for those who love the unknown.

This guide will lead you through the paths to the falls and show you what else there is to do nearby. Ready to explore this spot and its surroundings? Let’s dive into the adventure, discovering the beauty and excitement waiting at Needle Falls.

6 Key Takeaways on Needle Falls

  1. Fed by the White River, the 120-foot-tall falls are best visited in spring to autumn.
  2. Two paths, the White River Trail and Needle Falls Overlook route, lead to the falls. However, these paths offer limited information for adventurous exploration.
  3. Camping near Needle Falls is recommended, with over 20 campgrounds available.
  4. The Needle Falls Overlook Trailhead offers a peaceful 4.4-mile hike with a unique view.
  5. The White River Trail, a 21.6-mile hike from Junction Trail #80, promises a challenging backcountry experience.
  6. Nearby activities include swimming in Glacier National Park, trail running, cycling, boating, and white water rafting.

About Needle Falls

Location CoordinatesHeightNearby FeaturesLocation
47.61164° N, -113.20518° W120 feet (36.5 meters)Town of Great FallsLolo National Forest, Flathead County, Montana

Needle Falls in Montana’s Flathead County is a little-known spot. It’s an unconfirmed waterfall, meaning not all details are certain. Yet, the World Waterfall Database thinks it’s very likely there. The falls show up on different maps, giving you a good shot at finding them.

Though one thing to be aware of is that there’s not a ton of info out there. Pictures are rare, and the facts are hard to come by. This mystery is part of what makes Needle Falls intriguing.

There are two paths to the falls: the White River Trail and the Needle Falls Overlook route. Details on these paths are scarce, so the journey is best for those with hiking experience or a taste for adventure.

The falls are big, standing at 120 feet tall. They get water from the White River in Lolo National Forest, about 5,163 feet above sea level. It’s best to visit from spring to autumn when there’s usually lots of water and nice weather.

For a place to stay, camping is the best option. There are over 20 campgrounds nearby with hundreds of spots for tents or RVs. This allows you to enjoy the natural beauty around Needle Falls.

Hiking Trails to Needle Falls

A hiker crosses a river by stepping from one rock to another in a quiet forest near Needle Waterfall in Montana.

Needle Falls is a beautiful part of Montana that you should see. Getting there is part of the fun. These incredible trail routes have different levels of challenge and scenery to pick the best one for your hike.

Let’s look at how to get to Needle Falls and see what makes each route special.

Needle Falls Overlook Trailhead

A group of hikers with backpacks trek to Needle Falls through Needle Falls Overlook Trailhead

The Needle Falls Overlook Trailhead is where the adventure begins. It’s a 4.4-mile hiking trail near Lincoln, Montana, in Flathead County. Most people finish it in about 2 hours. It’s not too easy and not too hard, just right for a challenge.

What makes this trail special is that it’s not as well-known as others. This means you’re more likely to find peace along the way, enjoying nature without the crowds.

Here are some quick facts about the trail to keep in mind:

Distance4.4 miles (7.08 km)
Elevation Gain761 feet (232 meters)
Difficulty LevelModerately challenging
Trail TypeOut and back

But because it’s not as popular, having a hiking buddy and being prepared is extra important. Bring extra food, water purifiers, and a GPS tracker to stay safe if you get lost.

White River Trailhead

A woman on the White River Trailhead to Needle Falls treks a rocky path close to lake and a dense forest.

The White River Trail is a hidden path to Needle Falls. It begins at Junction Trail #80 and goes to Larch Hill Pass. You can hike, backpack, or ride a horse along its 21.6-mile stretch. But here’s the thing, it’s tough. This trail is for those who love a challenge.

It’s a bit mysterious. There isn’t a lot of info out there about the White River Trail. You’ll be exploring a path that few have detailed before.

Some hikers say you can camp in the backcountry along this trail. Since there are no set camping spots, you can pitch your tent in a truly wild setting.

Here are some quick facts to remember about the White River Trail:

Distance21.6 miles (34.7 km) – full trail
Elevation GainUnknown
Difficulty LevelChallenging
Trail TypePoint to point

So, if you’re up for a tough trek and love exploring an uncharted trail, the White River Trail could be your ticket to Needle Falls.

Things to Do Near Needle Falls

Needle Waterfalls plunges from a steep rocky cliff surrounded by light fog and pine trees

Needle Falls is a beautiful spot in Montana, attracting visitors with its stunning beauty and peaceful atmosphere. But if you want to explore more, the surrounding areas offer plenty of activities to enhance your visit. 

1. Swimming

Lake Josephine in Montana amid a lush forest and majestic mountains

Swimming near waterfalls tends to be very risky. Strong currents under the water can pull you down and make it hard to return. So, swimming at waterfalls, including Needle Falls, is unsafe.

Don’t stress, there are safe places nearby where you can swim. Glacier National Park is perfect for this. It has lakes and streams where you can take a dip. The best part? These spots have designated areas for swimming, so you can enjoy the water without any worries.

Here are some top picks for swimming within Glacier National Park:

  • Lake Josephine – Lake Josephine is known for its crystal-clear water and stunning mountain views.
  • Bowman Lake – Bowman Lake is a bit secluded, offering a peaceful swimming experience.
  • Lake McDonald – Lake McDonald is one of the most popular lakes, and it has refreshing water.
  • St. Mary Lake – St. Mary Lake is great for a swim after a hike, surrounded by beautiful scenery.

For those who love adventure, there’s Lake Grinnell. It’s a bit of a hike to reach, but the icy waters from the glacier provide an exciting experience. It’s like taking a cold dip right in the heart of nature.

Remember, swimming at Needle Falls is not safe. But there are plenty of other beautiful and safe places nearby where you can enjoy the water. Head to Glacier National Park’s stunning lakes for a refreshing dip and make sure to stay safe while having fun.

2. Trail Running

Two people jog on a dirt path to Needle Waterfall in Montana

Needle Falls, Montana, is perfect for trail runners. There are incredible trails all around that give you an unforgettable experience.

Before you begin your trail run adventure, do some research. Visit websites like Great Runs – Glacier and Trail Run Project. They tell you about the trails’ steepness, heights, and difficulty. Knowing what to expect makes your journey safer and more fun.

Here are a few trail suggestions to get you started:

  • Great Runs – Glacier
  • Trail Run Project – Flathead
  • Trail Run Project – Lolo
  • Trail Run Project – Kootenai

Get ready to wear your running shoes, take in the fresh mountain air, and feel the excitement of trail running in one of Montana’s most beautiful spots.

3. Cycling

A woman bikes on a dirt trail in Lolo National Forest in Montana

The area around Needle Falls offers top spots for cycling, with breathtaking trails. Picture pedaling through paths surrounded by stunning nature. The area offers a cycling experience, with trails in Lolo National Forest, Glacier National Park, and more.

Lolo National Forest is great for biking because the trails suit everyone, from beginners to experts. But before you start, pick a trail that’s right for you. Check how steep it is, how rough the ground is, and how high you’ll go. This makes sure you have a safe and fun ride.

Whether you’re skimming through the forests or tackling mountain paths, the state’s trails are ready to be explored.

4. Boating

A red rental kayak rests on a grassy bank beside a lake in Glacier National Park.

Boating around Needle Falls is a must-do adventure. You have a range of options, from peaceful paddles to thrilling speedboat rides:

  • Lakes, Rivers, Streams, and Ponds – The area around Needle Falls is a boater’s paradise. You can find waterways of all sizes, perfect for different boating experiences.
  • Glacier National Park – For hikers, some lakes and rivers in Glacier National Park are accessible via trails. It’s a bit of a hike, but the reward of a quiet, secluded boating spot is worth it.
  • Rentals – Don’t have a boat? No problem. Local outfitters have you covered. Whether you’re looking for a kayak to explore the shore or a motorboat for a fishing trip, you’ll find the right fit.

If you have your boat, feel free to bring it along. Just remember to check for any specific regulations on the water you plan to explore.

Here are a few rental options to get you started:

  • Invert Sports
  • Heritage Outdoors
  • Rentals and Tours from Many Glacier
  • Glacier Outfitters
  • Sea Me Paddle

Before you go boating, check for any restrictions. Some areas might have limits or need permits. This simple step can prevent problems with local authorities and help keep the waters beautiful for everyone.

5. White Water Rafting

A group white water rafting through the rushing river rapids near Needles Falls in Montana.

White water rafting is an exciting alternative to canoeing at Needle Falls. The rushing rapids provide a thrilling experience for those seeking adventure. 

You have options for gear and guides. You can bring your gear and start from different access points. Or, if you want convenience and expert guidance, you can join a rafting tour. 

Before you get on the raft, check the available options. Each tour offers different trip lengths, amenities, and extras. It’s important to know what you’re getting so you can enjoy your adventure fully.

Here are some popular rafting tour options around the Needle Falls area:

  • Get Your Guide Day Rafting Trip – Perfect for a fun day, Get Your Guide Day Rafting Trip offers a thrilling rafting experience with the convenience of a local guide.
  • Glacier Raft Company – Glacier Raft Company is known for its spectacular views and challenging rapids, providing a range of rafting options.
  • Great Northern Rafting and Resort – If you want to extend your adventure, Great Northern Rafting and Resort offers multi-day rafting trips combined with camping or resort stays.
  • Rafting Trips With Wild River Adventure – Rafting Trips With Wild River Adventure is all about heart-pounding rapids and exciting water features for those seeking a wild ride.

Each of these options brings something unique to your white water rafting adventure. This trip offers the scenery, the challenge, and extra activities.

Needle Falls Final Thoughts

Needle Waterfall tumbles down a rocky cliff, surrounded by thick pine trees and some fall-colored bushes

Needle Falls in Montana’s Flathead Country is a true hidden treasure. As an unconfirmed waterfall, it carries an air of mystery.

The lack of complete information about it only adds to the allure. This spot is for the adventurous, those who love to explore off the beaten path.

The journey to Needle Falls requires hiking experience or a strong sense of adventure. It’s not your average tourist destination, which makes it special.

The surrounding area offers a playground for nature lovers. There’s something for everyone, From hiking to camping to cycling and boating. For an extra thrill, white water rafting is a must-try experience.

Needle Falls may be shrouded in mystery, but it’s also surrounded by beauty and adventure. It’s a place where you can push the boundaries of exploration.

You might be discovering the paths to the falls. Or you might enjoy the nearby activities. The area is full of wonder and excitement. It’s just waiting for you to explore.

Needle Falls FAQs

1. What Are the Best Hiking Trails for Reaching Needle Falls?

Two potential trails lead to Needle Falls: the main White River Trail and the alternative Needle Falls Overlook route. Both trails offer unique experiences amidst the scenic landscapes of Flathead County.

2. How Tall Is Needle Falls?

Needle Falls stands at approximately 120 feet (36.5 meters) in height.

3. When Is the Best Time to Visit Needle Falls?

The optimal time to view Needle Falls is during the spring to autumn seasons when the weather is favorable and the waterfall likely experiences ideal flow conditions.

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Written by:

Ashley Smith
Hello there! I'm Ashley Smith, born on a chilly winter's day, Montana has been my playground since childhood. The first snowfall of the year always brings back memories of building snowmen and winter hikes. Co-founding was my way of sharing the magic of Montana's seasons with the world. While Chris dives deep into the landscapes, I'm obsessed with Montana's rich culture, from the local festivals to the tales passed down generations.

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