he Ski Mountain
Straddling the divide between Idaho and Montana, Lost Trail is a day use option that includes the best of Montana ski areas: plentiful terrain for everyone, affordable prices and ample snow. It boasts five chairs and three rope tows across two mountains. 1,800 feet of vertical compliment 1,800 skiable acres across two mountains that disperses skiers well. Most importantly, the 300 inches of annual snowfall come at a bargain price usually around $40 for an adult day ticket, making Lost Trail very much worth the drive from Missoula, Montana.
The Mountain Experience
Priority at Lost Trail is family-friendly skiing, not ritziness. The area is very comfortable and welcoming with a staff that is friendly, happy to chat and courteous. The main base lodge has plenty of space for enjoying your sack lunch, or hanging out while the kids play. Rentals are in a separate building, but there’s a ski school, cafeteria, and lockers – everything you’d expect from a family-run ski area that’s been operating since 1938.
Lost Trail Ski Terrain
• Beginner: The Bunny Hill tow behind the lodge makes for some of the most accessible parking to lodge to slope connections in Montana; great for kids and families. Once ready to graduate, head to Chair 2 to wind your way down Meadow Run. Candy Stick and Oreo are fairly flat, so it’s not quite worth the trek over to Saddle Peak unless you want to burn some calories poling. Most prefer to stick to the base area and Chair 2 zone.
Current Snow Conditions
• Intermediate: The Saddle Mountain lift accesses the longest intermediate runs on the hill, with Two Dot, Lewis and Clark and Sacajawea offering long cruisers back to the bottom. For options closer to the lodge, and a faster lap time, check out the blue runs off Chair 1, especially Southern Comfort and Far Out to Salmon. There’s a nice roll to these runs and their proximity to the base lodge makes it easy to get back and check on the kids.
• Advanced: Heading up Chair 1 from the base area, rippers of all stripes will find plenty to jump off of and navigate in the cliffs and chutes on North Face and Femur Ridge. South Face wraps around the mountain to deliver some mellower advanced terrain. Traverse across the hill to the Saddle Mountain lift, and on the way up, check out all the fun to be had in Hollywood Bowl. Things are a little bigger than they look from farther away, but there’s great snow days after a storm hits.
Around the Mountain
• Terrain Park: Bucking the trend for small areas, Lost Trail has two wonderful parks and has capitalized on this to set themselves apart in Montana. The main park, Frontcountry, is visible from the base lodge under Chair 1, and features an assortment of rails, boxes, wallrides and step-down jumps. The Powder Park makes a statement as well: when it snows, you can whip laps off of Chair 1, catch some pow en route, then hit an assortment of fun hips that work just fine when covered in fresh snow. A series of rotating jibs finishes the run, and with a quick trip up the rope tow, you’re back to the base. The powder park shines in the spring, when things become slushy and goggle tans are inevitable.
Except for holidays, Lost Trail is only open Thursday through Sunday, which means that accumulating snow from Monday through Wednesday can really stack up. Powder Thursdays are somewhat legendary at Lost Trail.
Saddle Peak makes for some nice skiing, but beware of the twenty minute chair ride, especially in the cold. One particularly cold ride in single digit winds can send your group back to the base lodge, where you’ll discover another local gem: hot, spiced mulled wine served in appropriately sized styrofoam cups. Available for only a few bucks in the cafeteria, it’s an amazing elixir and a great way to warm up the fingers.
Note: The drive from Missoula is only ninety some miles, but the route winds through a number of towns with decreased speed limits compared to straight highway driving. It’s certainly worth the drive, but can be a bit of a haul.
You won’t find an après scene here unless you make your own with some good friends and the spiced mulled wine before last chair, or feel up to an afternoon tailgate in the parking lot.
While it’s not really a ski town, Darby is the closest option for eats and gas stations. Nearly 50 miles north of Lost Trail, Hamilton has a better selection of grocery stores and restaurants.
Lost Trail Lodging
Finding lodging close to the hill is near impossible. You’re closest options include: Sula Country Store Resort (13 miles) with very rustic and barebones cabins or Rocky Knob Lodge in Conner.
Use the “Lost Trail’s Nearest Ski Lodging Deals” box above and right to find your best Lodging choices.
Skiing with Kids
As mentioned, the close trio of parking, lodge, and beginner/intermediate/park terrain works great with kids. Just watch out for that long lift ride on Saddle Peak if they’re squirmy.
Lift Tickets and Season Pass Cost
See Regular Lift Ticket Prices and Season Passes here.
Kids 10 and under ski free when staying in lodging through Big Sky Central Reservations.
By David Steele