Before lacing up your hiking boots, determine where you want to go, what you need to bring, and what you're likely to encounter on the trail. The book Hiking Montana by Bill Schneider has useful, basic hiking safety information and offers route details from several trailheads. U.S. Forest Service offices have local maps, trail guides, and safety information. If you're new to hiking, you may want to employ an outfitter that offers guided walks. Prepare carefully before you head into bear country. Make plenty of noise on the trail, so you don't surprise a bear on the trail. Always carry bear spray and keep it where it's easily accessible.

U.S. Forest Service regional office. The regional office in Missoula, Montana, is responsible for 12 national forests within Washington, Northern Idaho, and Montana. Missoula, Montana. 406/329–3511; www.fs.fed.us/r1.