Kootenai Falls Swinging Bridge

Photo by Jonathan Brownell

Montana’s Kootenai National Forest offers spectacular fall scenery, and you can view the trees plus river rapids and a waterfall on the Kootenai Falls Swinging Bridge hike.

The trailhead for this hike is located between the cities of Troy and Libby in northwestern Montana. The hike itself is a little over a mile round-trip and includes several different sections. The first quarter mile is fairly level and winds through the forest to an outlook area where you can view the Kootenai River. Then, the trail heads more steeply downhill and leads to a walkway above some train tracks—you might even get to see a train pass beneath you. After that, there is a set of stairs that leads down to the swinging bridge.

The bridge gets its name because it swings back and forth if more than one person is crossing at the same time. Despite the motion, the bridge is perfectly safe. From the bridge you can see the rapids of the Kootenai River and the Kootenai Falls farther down. The scene is truly breathtaking and has been used in several movies, including “The Revenant” and “The River Wild.”

This moderately easy hike is a great way to experience Kootenai National Forest and the beautiful Kootenai Falls. To learn more about the bridge, go to visitmt.com/listings/general/landmark/kootenai-falls-swinging-bridge.html. Plan the rest of your trip to the Kootenai National Forest by visiting fs.usda.gov/main/kootenai/home. For information about travel in Western Montana, visit glaciermt.com.