Proposed Pacific Northwest Trail Route

Pacific Northwest Trail Map

Welcome to the fact page for the proposed Pacific Northwest Trail route—a high-volume thru-hiker corridor that will have lasting and expanding impact on the ecosystems through which it passes.

Update: On August 23rd, 2019, the Yaak Valley Forest Council filed suit against the U.S. Forest Service concerning the Pacific Northwest Trail on behalf of the Yaak Valley’s last 25 grizzly bears, a threatened/endangered species that is failing to recover in the Yaak region.

Click here for our Go Fund Me page

The suit also seeks to protect local access in the Yaak Valley by assessing the full effects of the Pacific Northwest Trail’s (PNT) current location.
But to be honest, the lack of a management plan is just the tip of the iceberg. There are reasons the forest service rejected this trail for 30 years: economic costs and grizzly bear habitat concerns chief among them.

The Yaak Valley Forest Council wants what’s best for hiker's, bears, and Montana. This problem requires a solution that so far neither collaboration nor litigation have been able to fix. It needs legislation.

When Congress designated the Pacific Northwest Trail in 2009, they also mandated that the Forest Fervice produce a management plan within two years. This management plan is required to determine the carrying capacity of the trail, and include public oversight. At this point, the Forest Service is eight years out of compliance with the law. We see this injunction as a way to get the process moving again.

The Yaak Valley Forest Council is suing the federal government—specifically, the U.S. Forest Service—for the first time in our 22-year history, and as you might imagine, it’s not cheap. We need your help to continue this. We will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to protect the Yaak’s last 25 grizzlies—the rarest grizzly subpopulation in Montana, and among the rarest in North America.

If you would like more information about the history of the PNT and what YVFC is advocating for, please read our PNT overview, and our FAQ:

The Yaak Valley Forest Council is urging Congress to reroute the trail through a legislative fix. If you agree that the trail should be relocated to better serve hikers, wildlife, and communities, your cards, letters, e-mails are needed! Use our elected officials contact page, and send a short note with your thoughts.
Be sure to send us a copy of your correspondence and contact us directly if you have any questions at Thank you!


What if there was another way? A way to protect (and, where necessary, restore) the ecologic integrity of the Yaak, yet send wayfaring pilgrims—some hungry for a thing they can’t name, others for a physical experience little different than a day at the gym, others for a connection with nature, ideally wild nature—yet a routing that would minimize or avoid disruption of one of the very things that makes the Yaak great and different from the vast majority of other valleys in the West, which is the presence of interior forest grizzlies? The Yaak Valley Forest Council is encouraging these discussions, along with, as ever, opportunities for sustainable economic diversification in the region.

The Yaak's Last Grizzlies - A lecture by Dr. David Mattson.


YVFC Summary of the Craighead-McRory Report

Press Clippings

"Finding Another Way "--Big Sky Journal