Mount Aeneas is a gorgeous mountain apex in Flathead County which climbs approximately 7,500 feet above sea level. Thanks to its awesome views, premier mountain goat watching opportunities and mellow tread, Mount Aeneas is an extremely popular destination. Situated in the in the towering Swan Mountains, Mount Aeneas is one of the most accessible summits in Montana. The 5.9-mile loop trail tops out at 7,528 feet, yielding big views for minimal work. The peak overlooks Jewel Basin, a 15,349-acre hiker-only area holding 27 radiant lakes, and its summit panorama includes Flathead Lake, Glacier National Park, and the Bob Marshall Wilderness.
Northwest Peak, elevation 7,705 feet is the principal attraction of a high mountain ridge, the most striking portions of which are included in the Northwest Peak Scenic Area, an official designation of the Forest Service. The peak is a long drive from almost everywhere except the Yaak Valley. This area normally gets more than its fair share of snow, so wait until July to conquer Northwest Peak. Total distance: 4.6 mile-round trip.
The 61,000-acre Rattlesnake National Recreation Area, part of the Lolo National Forest, is positioned at the northern city limits of Missoula. The beautiful topography features ridges, valleys, peaks, basin lakes, and a diverse array of orchids. The Stuart Peak Trail heads up Spring Gulch parallel to Spring Creek. The Spring Creek Loop follows along well-trodden cow paths and a farm lane, spiraling around both sides of the creek. Spring Creek drains into Rattlesnake Creek, a municipal watershed for Missoula. The Stuart Peak Trail takes hikers into alpine lake country and ends with vistas of surrounding mountain ranges from the top of Stuart Peak. Stuart Peak is 18 miles round trip and is quite strenuous at places. Its uphill gradient is around 4,000 vertical feet, not the ideal hike for first-timers, casual strollers, or those not in reasonably good hiking condition
The best times to tackle the beautiful Trapper Peak are from July to September, though perennial packets of snowfall at the summit are not unusual. An early start is suggested, as is an accurate weather forecast and a GPS system. Take plenty of water too, as there are no reliable water sources. The trail starts at the Trapper Peak Trailhead and at 1.6 miles enters the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, the wilderness encompassing more than 2,000 square miles of lightly traversed, remote Montana and Idaho backcountry. Elevations with the Selway-Bitterroot wilderness range vary from less than 2,000 feet along the Selway River to the mammoth 10,157-foot zenith of Trapper Peak (the highest point in the Bitterroots). Certain portions of the Trapper Peak Trail are poorly defined, ill-maintained, and hard to follow, especially on the return trip. The early segments trudge relentless upwards through lodgepole pine, white bark pine, and Douglas-fir. During the summer months, thick snowfields still cover much of the upper trail and mountain crest. At the halfway point, the trail wraps northwest and breaks free from the dark forest, leaving the realm of alpine larch and coming to light near the 9,000-foot contour.
The last half-mile or so of this hike becomes a mountaineer’s route, scooting boulders and rock fields. East of the apex, a massive detachment of Trapper Peak appears, where stacks of rock cairns indicate the true summit. To reach the lofty head of Trapper Peak requires a brief scramble atop huge rocks and stone. At 4.0 miles the trail reaches the summit of Trapper Peak, where a metal register and plaque greet the hearty, exhausted climber.
Ward Mountain Trail holds some agreeable and disagreeable surprises. From the valley, the mountain looks as tame and gentle as a tittering sea otter, and because it’s so close to the town of Hamilton one might predict it to be unexciting. Once you start hiking the roughly blazed dirt trail, however, the town is seldom seen and the flora, the fauna and the rocks are lush and fierce, underscoring an impressive and eclectic milieu, more diverse than anything else ready to be found in surrounding canyons. One thing not unanticipated about Ward Mountain: it’s a steep undertaking. Looking excessive and difficult, it’s certainly one of the steepest trails in the Bitterroot. The trailhead begins at 4,180 feet, with the summit cradling 9,119 feet. Beginning at the southern outskirts of Hamilton, Ward Mountain Trail climbs nearly 5,000 vertical feet in less than 5 miles, reaching a former lookout site at the vertex. Known for its unpredictable weather, often it snows at the summit in July. Indeed, at the end of spring around 4 feet of snow usually remains buried near the peak, making snowshoes or skis mandatory and hiking boots and gators inefficient. On a searing summer afternoon, Ward Mountain is a commitment of nearly primitive oppressiveness, only appropriate for those in reasonably strong physical condition. The hike out can be hard on the knees any time of year. The excellent news, however, is that the mountain is practically free of crowds, and rife with opportunities for adventures bordering on solitary, as well as wildlife. Quite possibly the single most exhausting trail in the entire Bitterroot Range, its lofty vantage point spanning the full length of the valley, makes the precipitous jaunt worthwhile. Panoramic perspectives include views of the Skalkaho, Roaring Lion and Sleeping Child drainages.