Proposed Southern Route Trail Description

Author’s note, from YVFC Board Secretary Matt Holloway:
The proposed southern re-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/resupply day in the middle.
Please email with any questions—I’d be pleased to share route information.
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.

Re-routing the Pacific Northwest Trail

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. We are 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. 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.

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 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.

The lack of a management plan is just the tip of the iceberg. 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.

The Yaak Valley Forest Council wants what is best for hikers, 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, 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. At this point, the Forest Service is nine 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 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 is 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, 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!

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

The Latest Science and USFS/NPS Feasibility Study