The Trust for Public Land, Flathead Land Trust, and Montana Land Reliance to Partner on Bigfork Community Trails and Open Space Conservation Project 

The Trust for Public Land, Flathead Land Trust, and The Montana Land Reliance announced today a partnership to create over four miles of new community trails and permanently protect 236 acres of forestland in Bigfork’s backyard.   

Located on the flanks of Swan Hill just a short distance from downtown, the protected land, once slated for development of 17 new residential lots, will offer unfettered views of Flathead Lake and the Swan Mountain Range while providing public access to extraordinary front county recreational opportunities for the community of Bigfork. The open space will offer protection and landscape connectivity for wildlife species such as whitetail deer, turkey, and black bear.   

“This new community asset will not only provide residents with additional outdoor opportunities close to home, but it will also allow for continued forest health management to reduce the risk of wildfire threats which have become so prevalent in our region,” said Lucas Cain, Project Manager with The Trust for Public Land. “The Trust for Public Land is honored and grateful to be part of this incredible opportunity of safeguarding access to the outdoors for both current and future generations.”   

The new trail system, though not officially open to the public until the project is complete, will complement existing trails such as Swan River Trail that have become increasingly crowded due to an uptick in usage during the COVID-19 pandemic. Project planning will continue to take place, along with community information and involvement opportunities over the coming months. 

“Flathead Land Trust is proud to be partnering on this exciting project which will serve the community of Bigfork and the Flathead Valley with a recreational amenity right next to town and conserve an important piece of open space for future generations to enjoy,” said Paul Travis, Executive Director for Flathead Land Trust. “We look forward to engaging with the community as we work towards providing much needed front country recreation on this property that otherwise could have been lost to subdivision and development.” 

While The Trust for Public Land is currently the property owner, long-term ownership and management will transfer to the Flathead Land Trust, with the conservation easement holder being The Montana Land Reliance. The project partners would like to thank the Alan and Cindy Horn Family for their generosity and vision in making this community project possible.  

“We have many wonderful memories of our time in Bigfork and the Flathead Valley and are very pleased to have been able to contribute this beautiful property to the community,” said the Horn family. We want to thank Mark Schiltz of The Montana Land Reliance and Diane Conradi of The Montana Access Project for their vision, Jack and Ursula Whitney, whose memories and love for their land inspired us, and Jim Taylor for helping bring it all together.”  


About The Trust for Public Land   

The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Millions of people live within a 10-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. To support The Trust for Public Land and share why nature matters to you, visit

About The Flathead Land Trust  

The Flathead Land Trust is dedicated to protecting northwest Montana’s spectacular land and water legacy through community-based conservation.  

About The Montana Land Reliance  

The Montana Land Reliance partners with private landowners to permanently protect agricultural lands, fish and wildlife habitat, and open space.