Montana is called the "Land of the Shining Mountains" for a very good reason. With 77 named ranges in the Rocky Mountains, a continental divide riding across the state, and more than 100 mountains in the western part of the state, Montana has more than its share of magnificent mountains. Stretched between the Rockies and the Great Plains, Glacier National Park is the biggest tourist attraction in Montana. With so many 12,000+ foot, snow-capped peaks, crystal-clear emerald lakes, old-growth forests, steep mountain trails, and pleasant hiking trails, Montana residents and visitors have a choice to make when planning their outdoor adventure. Photo: ricktravel/Fotolia
Divide Mountain, with the highest peak at 8,665 feet, is located in the Lewis Range of Glacier National Park in Montana, just south of the town of Saint Mary. It forms the border between Glacier National Park and the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. It is popular among beginner climbers as it is considered an “easy mountain.” Nevertheless, once you are on the top, the views of St. Mary, the Yellow Mountain, and all the higher peaks of the Rockies are worth the effort. If you stay to the right coming from the trailhead at the communication towers, there is a nice slope and you can avoid climbing between the cliffs to get onto the ridge. There are blooming flowers in the season, and no large trees to obscure the view, so vistas were open and magnificent wherever you look. There is an abandoned fire lookout cabin on the top.
One of the Glacier National Park’s most beautiful mountains, Mount Grinnell is located at the western end of the park’s Many Glacier Area, between Mount Gould and Mount Wilbur. There are several trails to the summit. Coming from the southwest along the Granite Park Chalet Trail, you get fantastic views of the Lake McDonald Area peaks to the west and, in the distance, the Livingston and Lewis ranges. Once you reach the summit, Mount Grinnell provides a vista all the way to Chief Mountain. The elevation gain from the trailhead is 4,550 feet, but you will be going up and down, so the actual round trip is only about 13 miles. Keep in mind that the entire area of Northern Rockies is full of wildlife. There are mountain lions, grizzly bears, and black bears above the tree line.
Photo: Sean Xu/Fotolia
At 9,356 feet, Holland Peak is the highest peak in the imposing, rugged Swan Range and the highest peak at the western end of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. The whole trip is only about 5 miles long, but in the last 4 miles you will gain 5,000 feet in elevation. It is possible to do it as a day hike with some serious scrambling, more than one vertical rise, and narrow brushy trails. From Holland Peak you can see "The Bob" to the east and the Swan Valley to the west. The west face of the mountain is famous for the sheer vertical rise above the lovely Rumble Creek Lakes. There is a narrow cascade where the upper lake outlet drops to the lower lake. The lakes are full of fish and there are more fishermen than hikers on the mountain.
Flinsch Peak is located in the Lewis Range, about 2.3 miles west of Rising Wolf Mountain. It straddles the Continental Divide. Young Man Lake is located just east of the peak. At 9,225 feet, Flinsch Peak is surprisingly easy to climb from the pass, offering outstanding views of the surrounding mountains. It was named for Rudolf Ernst Ferdinand Flinsch, a young Austrian who came to the mountain in 1892 to hunt mountain goats. North Shore Trailhead is located in Two Medicine Valley and the best time to start the hike is early in the morning. There is very little water above No Name Lake, so bring enough.
At 10,157 feet, Trapper Peak is the highest of the Bitterroot Mountains, about 11.7 miles from Darby, Montana. Trapper Peak is the highest point on the huge ridge between Trapper Creek and Boulder Creek. Most people stop to enjoy the view at the point-of-interest sign a couple of miles south of Darby, but there is a better viewpoint farther south, closer to Connor. Trapper Peak is one of the most-climbed of the Bitterroot Mountains, mostly because it is the highest and probably because it is not hard to climb. There are some boulders to be crossed where using hands becomes necessary, and there is talus close to the summit, but nothing serious. There are a number of trailheads leading to trails of different levels of difficulty and elevation gain, so you can choose which one to take. One of the most challenging is the Trapper Creek Trailhead, which has additional elevation gain, very steep slopes, and an elusive trail. The area around the Trapper Peak summit is a Designated Wilderness.
»Triple Divide Peak
Triple Divide Peak is a 8,020-foot mountain located in the Lewis Range, part of the Rocky Mountains and Glacier National Park. The Continental Divide runs through these mountains, creating a maritime and continental climate, with an incredible diversity of flora and fauna. The name Triple Divide means that the waters running down from the peak’s sedimentary soil can end up in three different oceans: the Pacific, Atlantic, or Arctic Oceans, separated by thousands of miles. It takes about 2 days for the 16-mile out-and-back climb to the top, with almost 3,000 feet of climbing. From the Cut Bank trailhead, the trail goes up gradually along Cut Bank Creek. It continues to climb steadily without switchbacks across the sheer flanks of 9,375-foot Mount James. If you look south toward the Triple Divide Pass, you will see the gorgeous sapphire-blue Medicine Grizzly lake.
»Rising Wolf Mountain
Rising Wolf Mountain is one of the first mountains you see when you enter the Two Medicine area in the southeast end of Glacier National Park. The 9,518-foot-tall mountain is part of the Lewis Range. The climb is a long and hard, but the views from the summit are a true reward, with valleys, summits, and hanging lakes all around you. The hike is only about 10 kilometers long, but the elevation gain is about 4,500 feet, making the difficult off-trail scramble feel much longer. The Blackfeet consider the Two Medicine region of the park to be sacred ground.
Although you will gain almost 4,600 feet in elevation, Stanton Mountain, with an elevation of 7,750 feet, is considered an “easy” mountain as far as the Northern Rockies go. It has a nice trail for the first 2.3 miles, and about half a mile of serious bushwhacking, followed by a more open timber area. After that it becomes a steep ascent through some old burn with no shade, then tundra, and finally bare rocks to the summit with spectacular views. There is snow almost until July, so this peak is a nice climb for early season, with a steady, fairly moderate pace, which most experienced climbers can do in about 3 hours. From the summit there is a very nice view of Lake McDonald, and on its edge, Apgar Village. Keep in mind that after you cross a stream early on there is no more water.
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Allen Mountain, elevation 9,376 feet, is located in the Lewis Range of Glacier National Park, north-northwest of Cracker Lake. It is one of the three tallest summits in the Many Glacier Valley. It is a massive mountain, but it does not appear so impressive when you look at it from the eastern shore of Switcurrent Lake, where you get a view of its seriously dramatic neighbors such Mount Wilbur or Grinnell Point. Starting from the Many Glacier Hotel, you will go uphill on a broad mountainside covered in scree, continuing uphill towards very steep cliffs and a nicely rounded sub-8,000-foot summit at the end of a long ridge that leads south to the actual summit. There are several routes to Allen Mountain, depending the level of difficulty you are looking for. One of them is the High Traverse/Great Break Route, which follows a game trail to the beautiful Snow Moon Basin.
Mount Oberlin, at 8,180 feet, is located in the Lewis Range of Glacier National Park, just northwest of Logan Pass, 1 mile from the Continental Divide and north of Clements Mountain. There is a 4-mile-long trail that will gain you an elevation of 1,500 feet. The trail is steep in some places and it will take you up to 7 hours to reach the summit and return. The views are magnificent and you might be lucky enough to spot mountain goats and bears. The Going-to-the-Sun Road through Glacier National Park, which leads to the trailhead, is an amazing adventure in itself. The trail starts at the base of Logan Pass. The trail is marked with cairns and is easy to follow all the way to the summit. All along it you will have an open view of Mount Gould, the Garden Wall, the Livingston Range, and the Lewis Range.
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Sinopah Mountain, at an elevation of 8,271 feet, is not the highest or most dramatic mountain in the Two Medicine area, but it is considered its jewel and once you see its sheer wall of cliffs forming the background of the emerald-green Two Medicine Lake, you will know why and its breathtaking beauty will stay with you. It is also a popular mountain to climb, and as it is off the regular climbers’ beaten path, it will give you plenty of solitude. It has plenty of good trails and you can also take a ferry to cross the lake, which will cut your walking distance by a few miles. You can hike Sinopah Mountain as an easy day hike, or a serious multi-day trek on the way to other parts of the park.
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Crowfeet Mountain, elevation 8,914 feet, is located in the Lewis Range in the Glacier National Park, on a ridgeline south of the Ptarmigan Tunnel. It can be clearly seen from Iceberg Lake. Crowfeet Mountain’s peak looks gently rounded when seen from the west, but almost vertical and rugged from any other point of view. You can usually see it together with two other accessible peaks in the Many Glacier Area: Mount Henkel and Apikuni Mountain. Their wild beauty will take your breath away. Crowfeet’s east face is a 2,000-foot sheer wall and, once you are up, if you dare to peer down, you can see Kennedy Lake. The routes up the Crowfeet are on the west and south-facing slopes, which means they lose their snow fairly early in the season.
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25 Most Beautiful Montana Mountains
- Divide Mountain, Photo: Courtesy of dendron - Fotolia.com
- Mount Grinnell, Photo: Courtesy of Sean Xu - Fotolia.com
- Holland Peak, Photo: Courtesy of finnegan - Fotolia.com
- Flinsch Peak, Photo: Courtesy of wildnerdpix - Fotolia.com
- Trapper Peak, Photo: Courtesy of mbruxelle - Fotolia.com
- Triple Divide Peak, Photo: Courtesy of miriam_time - Fotolia.com
- Rising Wolf Mountain, Photo: Courtesy of kreulen - Fotolia.com
- Stanton Mountain, Photo: Courtesy of stacy - Fotolia.com
- Allen Mountain, Photo: Courtesy of kanonsky - Fotolia.com
- Mount Oberlin, Photo: Courtesy of wildnerdpix - Fotolia.com
- Sinopah Mountain, Photo: Courtesy of Wirepec - Fotolia.com
- Crowfeet Mountain, Photo: Courtesy of wildnerdpix - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of ricktravel - Fotolia.com
East Saint Marys Peak
East Saint Marys Peak, elevation 9,425 feet, is located on the southern side of Mission Mountains in northwestern Montana, about 28 miles from Missoula and 8.5 miles from Saint Ignatius. The Missions are massive mountains, famous for the western wall sharply rising from 3,000 feet to more than 9,800 feet and are fairly inaccessible, with several glaciers and a lot of wildlife. Saint Mary’s is one of the very few peaks in the Missions that can be climbed in the winter as there is low danger of avalanche. The road to the trailhead is often passable in winter due to its low elevation. The most commonly used southeast ridge route is considered very safe and is used for winter training by the New Rocky Mountaineers climbing club. Most of the western end of the Mission Mountains are part of the Flathead Indian Reservation and you will need a Reservation Hiking Permit.
Gray Wolf Peak
Gray Wolf Peak, elevation 9,001 feet, is a major peak in the southernmost end of Mission Range. This magnificent mountain’s true peak is not visible if you approach it from the north or west. Approaching from the south, as you enter the Flathead Indian Reservation, you see a distant, enticing view of the false summit. This is not a mountain for the inexperienced climbers and, while considered a non-technical mountain, it is not easy and far from straightforward, as you will have to find the right route among the few available. It is a good idea to choose a nice clear day to tackle Gray Wolf Peak in any case.
Appistoki is located in Two Medicine Valley at the southeastern end of Glacier National Park. This 8,164-foot-high mountain is a part of the "Scenic Point Ridge Walk." Appistoki Peak was named by topographer R. T. Evans, who worked on mapping the Glacier National Park. Appistoki is the word his Blackfeet guides used for "looking over something," an Indian god who looks over everything and everyone. From Appistoki Peak, the view of Two Medicine Valley, the Nyack Region, and the Plains of Central Montana is spectacular. There are three possible routes to reach the peak: The Appistoki Creek Route, which runs from a sharp switchback on the Scenic Point Trail following the creek; the Scenic Point Ridgewalk trail, which takes about 10 hours and crosses several unnamed peaks; and from the south shore of Two Medicine Lake as well as from the Scenic Point Trailhead if you don’t mind some off-trail bushwhacking. Climbing Appistoki is possible all year round, but the strong winds can reach speeds of 100 miles per hour.
Grizzly Mountain, elevation 9,067 feet, is located in the Two Medicine area of the Glacier National Park and can be reached via a well-marked and well-maintained trail. It is necessary to leave the trail for the last 1.5 miles before the summit, although it is not really a difficult climb. It is 11 miles from trailhead to summit with a scramble through some truly magnificent mountain wilderness. The reward at reaching the Two Medicine Pass are views that will take your breath away. The area is not heavily trafficked and not as popular as Many Glacier. It has decent facilities and a campground and is a point for excursions on Two Medicine Lake.
Kupunkamint Mountain has an elevation of 8,797 feet and is located in the Lewis Range, in the southeastern part of Glacier National Park. There is a solid network of well-maintained trails, but they will take you only so far; the rest is a certain level of bushwhacking and game trails or no trails at all. On the lower slopes, dense forest and thick undergrowth will slow your progress and present you with confusing options, especially on the way down. Kupunkamint has no official trailhead, but the place to begin is at the entrance to Glacier National Park off the gravel road to the Cut Bank Campground. About half a mile further into the park is the ranger station, and after another half mile is the campground.
Painted Tepee Peak
Painted Tepee Peak, with an elevation of 7,650 feet, is also known as the Painted Tepee. It sticks out from the ridgeline between Chief Lodgepole Peak and the Two Medicine Pass. It can be clearly seen from the gorgeous Two Medicine Lake. From the summit, the vista stretches in all directions and includes Two Medicine Lake, Rising Wolf Mountain, Mount Ellsworth, Grizzly Mountain, Chief Lodgepole Peak, Mount Rockwell, Vigil Peak, and Sinopah Mountain. The mountain is a hikers’ delight, with an easy hike all the way to the summit with its pinnacles and outcrops. They require some serious scrambling to climb and, for climbers, are the highlights of the whole trip. Two Medicine Lake is one of the windiest places in the park. You can cut a bit of distance by taking the boat trip across Two Medicine Lake.
Ajax Peak straddles the Continental Divide and is located in the northern part of the Beaverhead Mountains. The closest towns are Salmon in Idaho and Wisdom in Montana. Over 10,000 tall, it can be easily seen from Idaho. The Ajax Lake basin had a colorful past, with the famous Ajax Mine on the south side of the basin just below the peak. The entrance to the mine shaft can still be easily seen once you gain some elevation. There is a rough road leading visitors to it. There is also a charming old cabin as you get closer to the lake. The other dominant feature of the mountain are the many charred barren trees still standing after a fire, covering a good portion of the lower slopes of Ajax Peak.
Located in the Sawtooth Range, a part of the spectacular Rocky Mountains Front, Rocky Mountain, at 9,392 feet, is the heart of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. The Bob Marshall, the Scapegoat, and the Great Bear form a vast, wild, and rugged area popularly known as "The Bob." Rocky Mountain is the place where climbers and hikers go when they want to be alone with spectacular natural beauty, with more chance of meeting a grizzly than other humans. The views while hiking open in all directions: Sawtooth Range, the Great Plains and, far on the horizon, Mount St. Nicholas and the Two Medicine area. The trailhead for Headquarters Creek Pass is located at the Mill Falls campground.
Located in Beartooth Mountain Range, at 12,204 feet, Mount Rearguard is the highest peak on the huge Hellroaring Plateau. It can be accessed from many directions, and some of the easiest routes are just off-trail hikes. During the winter and spring, Rearguard offers some great ski descents. The most commonly used trailhead is the Rock Creek trailhead. There are several routes up the mountain, and you can pick the level of difficulty you want. There are a few great camping places that are easily accessible by car from the Rock Creek Road, or you can enjoy one of the National Forest campgrounds. If you prefer backcountry camping, you will enjoy the campgrounds on the shores of Shelf Lake and Moon Lake.
Gash Point, elevation 8,886 feet, is located in the Bitterroot Mountains near Victor, Montana. The mountain is not well known or used by hikers or mountaineers, so the trail is not maintained. That means a bit of roughing it, but also a pleasant solitude. Things are very different in the winter. Gash Point is one of the Bitterroot's best and most popular back-county ski areas. Gash Creek and Gash Point got their name after a certain Jim Gash, who lived along the creek in the early 1870s. In 2006, a massive fire destroyed over 8,500 acres of forest. One good result was that the fire also burnt the dense undergrowth that had made hiking to Gash Point difficult. The trees are growing back and animals have returned as nature is reclaiming its territory. Keep in mind that after a few hundred yards on the trailhead, you will enter the Designated Wilderness, with the specific wilderness rules.
Tinkham Mountain, elevation 8,442 feet, is located in the Lewis Range of Glacier National Park. The trail starts at the Two Medicine Campground, and is about 21 miles on a round trip. The trail is good in most parts until you reach the last mile. The Goat Trail leads around the upper reaches of the mountain with exposed cliffs, gaining 3,279 feet in elevation. You will cross the Continental Divide at Cut Bank Pass and lose about 700 feet of elevation. The trailhead is located off the Two Medicine Campground. The starting point of several available trails is right after crossing the bridge. On the way to Tinkham Mountain you will cross two passes: Cut Bank and Pitamakan.
Mad Wolf Mountain
Mad Wolf Mountain, elevation 8,341 feet, is located in the Lewis Range in Glacier National Park, west of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, rising sharply above the Great Plains. And that is the biggest allure of climbing this mountain, where the eastern windswept face meets the prairies. The jagged landscape, scoured by glaciers, changes rapidly into the endless fields of grass and soft rolling hills of the Great Plains. The views from the summit of Mad Wolf are vast and spectacular. You can see the Sweet Grass Hills rising more than 3,000 feet from the surrounding flat prairies. Also, the tree line is fairly low, so you will have unobstructed views early on at low elevations. There is plenty of wildlife – bears, mountain goats, and bighorn sheep. The most-used trailhead is near Cut Bank Campground. There is also a network of gravel roads through the Blackfoot Reservation that will take you to the top of Cut Bank Ridge, but you need a Blackfoot Recreation Permit.