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Montana Hikes

14ers in California and Washington state or any other peak in the USA
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Montana Hikes

Postby Toni Marie » Sun Feb 17, 2013 4:45 pm

Hey all! Just made the move to Great Falls, Montana and was wondering if anyone knew of some great hikes. Mostly looking for high-elevation hikes and/or hikes with amazing scenery. Happy trails!
Toni Marie
"I've seen it rainin' fire in the sky. The shadow from the starlight is softer than a lullaby. Rocky Mountain High, Colorado."

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Re: Montana Hikes

Postby TravelingMatt » Sun Feb 17, 2013 5:32 pm

All of them!

Hiking in Montana is a lot like doing Colorado 13ers. You figure out what the nearest TH is, start going up, then the trail ends at some lake or other feature near treeline. From there you go cross-country on grass/scree to gain the ridge and follow it to the summit. Occasional scrambling required.

Outside of Glacier NP there's not a lot of info out there, but figuring it out yourself is part of the fun.
So pleas'd at first the towering Alps we try,
Mount o'er the vales, and seem to tread the sky,
Th' increasing prospects tire our wand'ring eyes,
Hills peep o'er hills, and Alps on Alps arise!
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Re: Montana Hikes

Postby Vincopotamus » Sun Feb 17, 2013 10:30 pm

Welcome! I currently live in the Little Belt mountains, just southeast of Great Falls, but spent the summer living in Choteau/Augusta so I got to see some cool country out here.

I'll echo what Matt said about hikes here being like CO 13ers. Far fewer people, and usually pretty sparse trails above treeline. About an hour to 2 hours west of GF is the Rocky Mountain Front which is pretty spectacular. Just west of the Front is the Bob Marshall Wilderness with great opportunities to get into some deep backcountry and spot a grizzly.

Here is the best guidebook I've found for the Front. I think it is out of print, hence the high price tag, but I bet you might be able to find it in a bookstore, or for sure at the library. The author, Tom Kotynski, runs an active blog pretty cool trip reports of his Great Falls-area adventures. SummitPost has some good info on their Bob Marshall Country section too.

A nice easy hike my girlfriend and I took was to Our Lake, a short little jaunt up to an alpine lake frequented by mountain goats.

Another good hike is up the Patrol Mountain Lookout (detailed in Kotynski's book), which is an active Forest Service fire lookout, staffed from late June to late September by a friendly woman who would love to host you for the afternoon. The views from the top are pretty amazing. On a clear day you can see to the Chinese Wall in the Bob Marshall.

We tried to hike Mt. Wright over Memorial Day this year, but got turned back by blizzard conditions, but it is probably comparable to Mt. Bierstadt in good conditions. It has a good trail all the way to the top to service a Forest Service repeater, and even used to host a fire lookout. Steamboat Mountain southwest of Augusta also has an old lookout site, which was at one time accessible by horse. We also successfully climbed Rocky Mountain, which is the highest peak on the Front at 9,300' some feet.

Alternately, Glacier NP's eastern entrances are less than 3 hours from Great Falls.

Lots of good country out there if you're willing to try a little harder to find it!
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Re: Montana Hikes

Postby Vincopotamus » Sun Feb 17, 2013 10:43 pm

Oh, and go visit the good folks at Statriot Designs and get yoself some swag
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Re: Montana Hikes

Postby ChrisinAZ » Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:56 am

I'll cast my vote for Granite Peak via the SW Couloir, though it's a few hours from you, I imagine. It's as high-elevation as you can get in the state (12800') and is an absolutely stunning peak in an incredible area! From the north, it's an easy rock climb, but from the southern approach, it's generally a two-day trip with class 3+ scrambling; think Snowmass with much more solid rock. I'd recommend going in August or early September; the climbing season for this one is short unless you like steep snow climbs, and the weather can be fickle.
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Re: Montana Hikes

Postby spiderman » Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:18 am

ChrisinAZ wrote: think Snowmass with much more solid rock.


I have to agree with you Chris that Granite Peak via SW Couloir is a true classic. I would also rank it class 3+ but it might reach a Colorado class 4 depending on the particular path. Maybe I just had different route than you did, but I was launching a steady stream of 5 lb rocks down the couloir. It was like the section above the hourglass on Little Bear, but 100 times the amount of rocks to knock down. It was a tragedy waiting to happen if there were two separate parties in the Couloir; quite a rare event though in Montana where we saw 5 other people in three days.

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Re: Montana Hikes

Postby PatsSox09 » Mon Feb 18, 2013 3:38 pm

Cedron Jones's Peakbagging Montana is pretty good. It's peak focused, specifically towards prominence peaks/range highpoints. (though it does not contain only prominence peaks, nor does it contain all of them). The beta's pretty good too, recent as well...i did a few of these this past summer and they pretty much were as he described.


http://www.amazon.com/Peakbagging-Montana-Guide-Montanas-Major/dp/1606390414/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1361223430&sr=8-1&keywords=peakbagging+montana

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Re: Montana Hikes

Postby Toni Marie » Sat Feb 23, 2013 11:09 am

Thanks so much! Definitely looking forward to doing some of these hikes once we get settled here. :-)
Toni Marie
"I've seen it rainin' fire in the sky. The shadow from the starlight is softer than a lullaby. Rocky Mountain High, Colorado."

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Re: Montana Hikes

Postby nyker » Sat Feb 23, 2013 4:55 pm

Get to Glacier NP and Waterton lakes NP across the border. Both awesome place with great walking even on the road! Wildlife galore including grizzlies, mountian lions and wolves and from last i recall tons of raptors around.

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Re: Montana Hikes

Postby Mark A Steiner » Sun Feb 24, 2013 2:18 pm

There are some good descriptions in Summitpost about other prominent peaks on the Beartooth Range such as Silver Run Peak and Mount Rearguard if you are not technically competent for Granite Peak. Regardless, any hike in this range provides stunning views.
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Re: Montana Hikes

Postby Matt Lemke » Mon Feb 25, 2013 2:03 pm

I would highly recommend the West Fork/Lake Fork Rock Creek trails and Sundance Pass. From the pass you can scramble up either Silver Run or Whitetail Peak. The Beartooths are a fantastic range with hundreds of beautiful high lakes and superb alpine scenery.
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