Lost Trail National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is located in the west-central portion of Flathead County in the serene and picturesque mountain drainage known as Pleasant Valley. The Refuge was acquired in August of 1999 and is the 519th Refuge in the National Wildlife Refuge System. Prior to acquisition, Refuge lands were privately owned and managed as a cattle and horse ranch known as Lost Trail Ranch.
Wetland habitats consist of sub-irrigated wet meadows composed primarily of reed canary grass. The Refuge encompasses the 160-acre Dahl Lake, a partially drained, shallow wetland system. Surrounding wooded slopes are composed of aspen, ponderosa pine, and douglas fir. Upland areas are a mosaic of prairie grasslands dominated by a variety of cool season native and non-native grasses.
The habitat diversity of the Refuge supports a wide variety of wildlife species. At least 14 species of migratory and breeding waterfowl use wetland areas. Various species of marsh and shorebirds are present during the summer months, including sandhill cranes, bitterns, and black terns. Both golden and bald eagles nest on the Refuge. Resident mammal species include white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, moose, and black bear. The threatened grizzly bear and the endangered gray wolf are occasionally spotted in the Pleasant Valley Area.
Because the Refuge is relatively new, many public use activities are limited at this time. Refuge policy and regulations require the development of various public use plans before an activity can be allowed. These plans will receive public input during the administrative planning process. Public use activities that are currently allowed include hunting, wildlife observation, wildlife photography, and environmental education.