Southern Route of the PNT Trail Description

“The Southern Route of the Pacific Northwest Trail is a wonderfully scenic, wild, and remote journey that passes through most every ecosystem and animal habitat in the northwest corner of Montana. I originally planned to hike this route in ten days, solo, with no support, but once my ten-year-old daughter asked to join, we adjusted the hike to a nineteen-day adventure in June 2020, with one complete layover and resupply day in the middle.”

Lastly, and most importantly, thank you for choosing this more ethical route and for not following the existing PNT route through the Yaak Valley. In the Yaak, those last 25 grizzly bears—maybe only three or four breeding females—need your help in not disturbing and displacing them during their critical summer months of mating and foraging.”

-Matt Holloway, Yaak Valley Forest Council Board Secretary

Re-routing the Pacific Northwest Trail

Pacific Northwest Trail Map

The Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail (PNT) is a high-volume thru-hiker corridor that will have a lasting and expanding impact on the ecosystems through which it passes. The Yaak Valley Forest Council is working to re-route the trail out of critical grizzly bear habitat, in order to protect bears, support local economies, preserve access, and maintain sustainable timber harvest. 

When Congress designated the Pacific Northwest Trail in 2009, Congress also mandated that the Forest Service produce a management plan within two years. This management plan is required to determine the carrying capacity of the trail and include public oversight. There are numerous reasons the Forest Service rejected this trail for 30 years, with economic costs and grizzly bear habitat concerns chief among those concerns. At this point, the Forest Service is nine years out of compliance with the law, and this injunction will 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 23-year history. 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.

The Yaak Valley Forest Council wants what is best for hikers, bears, and Montana. That is why we are urging Congress to re-route 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, and 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

For more information about the history of the PNT and why a re-route can help, please read our PNT overview or our FAQ below.

Thank you!

Visit Our "Go Fund Me" Page

Latest Updates:

 7/30/2020:  Federal Judge Rules in Favor of Yaak Grizzly Bears in Pacific Northwest Trail Route Case.

4/9/2020: The USDA announced they are reopening the PNNST Federal Advisory Committee.

8/23/2019: 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.

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

The Latest Science and USFS/NPS Feasibility Study