Not sure why the recommeded route to the trail head would go through Glacier Park and West Glacier. Not only is it a lot of extra miles, it requires the entry fee to the park. It's faster to go north on Nucleus, the main drag through downtown Columbia Falls to Railroad Street. Take a right on Railroad and it turns into the North Fork Road as it crosses the tracks and leaves town. Part of the way is on pavement and the rest dirt. Depending on the time of year the dirt portion of the Northfork Road could be smooth or potholed and washboarded to hell. It's usually not bad in spring and fall after it's been graded and deteriorates in the dry months of July/August and during winter. If this route is followed, keep an eye out for the when the North Fork Road turns back to pavement in front of Glacier Institute's Big Creek Center. In a short distance the road crosses Big Creek and turns back to dirt. Take the next left onto the Big Creek Road (FS 316) and follow the original route directions from there.