Chase wild ice north of Olney in the Lebeau Natural Area
Story and photography by Greg LindstomDs temperatures plummet and daylight wanes, take advantage of one of nature’s most unique creations and discover wild ice on the Flathead Valley’s many lakes. With eight lakes ranging in size from five to 34 acres, the LeBeau Natural Area offers the perfect place to find these frosty formations. Just north of Olney, the area spans more than 5,000 acres.
Intense glacial scouring formed many of the geographic features in the area, and Finger Lake is a perfect example. The long, narrow lake sits approximately 1.5 miles from the trailhead. The rocky ledges at its southern edge offer a tranquil setting for a winter picnic, and a short scramble takes the adventurous hiker to the water’s edge where ice formations are as unique as they are plentiful.
How to get there From Kalispell, travel north on Highway 93. Drive approximately seven miles north of the town of Olney and turn left just past mile marker 151. Cross the railroad tracks and follow the road around a hairpin bend to the parking area before the road drops down to Upper Stillwater Lake. Remember to pack snowshoes or footwear traction, as the trails can be icy and snow packed.