Mission Mountains Wilderness

The Mission Mountains

Mission Mountains Wilderness
Located in the Flathead National Forest in Montana. 

The Mission Mountains Wilderness is on the Swan Lake Ranger District of the Flathead National Forest in northwestern Montana. The Forest Service manages it as part of the National Forest System. Officially classified as Wilderness on January 4, 1975, the 73,877 acre area is managed in accordance with the Wilderness Act of 1964.  The Mission Mountains run along the east shore of Montana’s Flathead Lake.

The Mission Mountains, Holland LakeWhen to Visit – Most people visit the wilderness between July 1 and October 1. Snow-filled passes and high streams make earlier travel difficult and hazardous. High lakes do not open up until early or mid-June.

June is normally a wet month. Snow still covers high, shaded basins and surrounds trees.

July, August, and early September are dry months. Daytime temperatures are the 80-90 degree range. Showers are frequent. Nights are very cool. Snow occur at any time. Heavy snow generally occurs in late October and early November.

Mission Mountains Trail HeadIf you are a skier or winter camper, late February through May provide the best snow conditions and longer days. When planning an extended backcountry trip, be informed of potential avalanche conditions.

Trails – There are about 45 miles of maintained Forest Service system trails in the Mission Mountains. Most trails are better suited to hiking than horseback riding because of rugged terrain.

Travel is primarily by foot with some horseback use. Mountain bikes, hang gliders, motorized trail bikes, motorcycles, three and four wheelers, and snowmobiles are not permitted. Few of the trails can be called easy. Some are especially difficult because of steepness. You should be an experienced hiker to travel cross country and should possess map reading and compass skills.

Throughout the Mission Mountains you will find old Indian and packer trails. These are usually steep and difficult to follow. They are suitable for only the most experienced horse users or backpackers.

Mission Mountain TrailAccess Points – The major access points into the Mission Mountains Wilderness from the Swan Valley: Glacier Creek, Cold Lakes, Piper Creek, Fatty Creek, and Beaver Creek. Other access points from the Swan Valley include Lindbergh Lake (south end trail reached by boat), Jim Lakes, Hemlock Creek, Meadow Lake, and Elk Point.

There are also three major access points from the Salish & Kootenai Indian Reservation side of the Mission Mountains. Access through tribal lands requires a permit. These permits may be purchased at major sporting goods stores in Missoula and the Mission Valley or through the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Recreation Department in Pablo, Montana, phone (406) 675-2700.

A major portion of the Mission Mountains is suitable for backpacking only. Travel is strenuous, but it has many advantages: independence and self-sufficiency, opportunities for solitude, and you’re more carefree when backpacking.

DAY HIKES: The Mission Mountains has several hikes ranging from 1 1/4 miles to 6 miles (one way) which can be completed in a day. You will carry less on your back and travel more easily.

BACKPACKING: Backpacking requires careful planning. Proper equipment, with maximum utility and minimum weight, will make the trip easier. The most important items will be your pack, sleeping bag, and foot gear. Take only what you need. A pack that is too heavy can spoil your trip. A pack without adequate food, clothing and shelter can be equally disappointing and unpleasant.

The Go Hike With Mike trail guide contains most every trailhead along the Swan front of the Mission Mountains.

Looking west at Flathead Lake from Yellowbay State Park.

Hiking Trails: Strawberry Lake

Trail Guide

Hiking Trails: Strawberry Lake Trail #5

The Strawberry Lake trail is 2.8 miles long and climbs 1,500 feet. It begins at the end of Forest Service Road #5390 and ends at the junction with Alpine Trail #7. This trail switchbacks up a wooded ridge and then flattens out and sidehills for the last 1.5 miles to the alpine lake. The trail is open for the following uses: Hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and motorcycle trail riding.

Directions:

From Bigfork, go North on Highway 35 for 2.3 miles and turn right onto Highway 83. Stay on 83 for 2.8 miles and turn left onto Echo Lake Rd. After 2.2 miles, turn slightly right onto Foothill Rd. bear left after 1.1 miles to stay on the Foothill Rd. Drive for 2.7 miles, then turn right onto Road 5390 and drive for 3.3 miles, the trailhead is located at the end of this road.

Length : 2.8 miles
Elevation : 4,137 feet – 5,611 feet

Hiking Trails: Strawberry Lake

190 pages packed with trailheads, camping spots, and local information around Flathead Lake.

Don’t need the hiking guide, just some basic trail information, do not fret.  Mike has included some beginner to medium hikes on this website.  Depending on were you as staying there is most likely a trail head near you. Thanks for visiting, hope to see you on the trail.
The trail guide is focused on trails, camping and being in the woods.  Mike’s Flathead Lake Trail Guide breaks the area in five easy to use sections.  North of Flathead lake, including The Talley Lake area and due north to Polebridge. East of Flathead Lake, including the Swan Front, Swan Valley, and on into the Hungry Horse recreation area.  The guide contains most every trail Mike has hiked in the last 20 years or plans to hike in the next 20 years.

Hiking Trails: Camp Misery Trail

Trail Guide

Hiking Trail: Camp Misery Trail #68

The Camp Misery trail is 0.8 miles long. It begins at the junction with Noisy Creek Trail #8 and ends at the junction with Alpine Trail #7 and provides one of the many accesses into the Jewel Basin Hiking Area. The trail is primarily open for the following uses: Hiking.

Usage is typically light, closest town is Bigfork
Directions:
From Bigfork, go North on Highway 35 for 2.3 miles and turn right onto Highway 83. Stay on 83 for 2.8 miles and turn left onto Echo Lake Rd. After 2.2 miles, turn slightly right onto Foothill Rd. Continue for 1.1 miles and bear slight right following the Jewel Basin sign onto Road #5392. Continue 6.6 miles to the end of the road for the trailhead.

Location

Area/Length : 0.8 miles
Elevation : 5,750 feet – 7,530 feet

190 pages packed with trailheads, camping spots, and local information around Flathead Lake.

Don’t need the hiking guide, just some basic trail information, do not fret.  Mike has included some beginner to medium hikes on this website.  Depending on were you as staying there is most likely a trail head near you. Thanks for visiting, hope to see you on the trail.
The trail guide is focused on trails, camping and being in the woods.  Mike’s Flathead Lake Trail Guide breaks the area in five easy to use sections.  North of Flathead lake, including The Talley Lake area and due north to Polebridge. East of Flathead Lake, including the Swan Front, Swan Valley, and on into the Hungry Horse recreation area.  The guide contains most every trail Mike has hiked in the last 20 years or plans to hike in the next 20 years.

Hiking Trails: Crane Mountain Trail

Trail Guide

Hiking Trail: Crane Mountain Trail #314

The Crane Mountain trail is 2.1 miles long (total of 3.5 miles from trailhead) and climbs about 330 feet. It begins at the junction with the Beardance Trail #76 and ends at the junction with Road #10218 near Crane Mtn Rd. From the Beardance trailhead this is one of three trails that climb up Crane Mountain. This lesser known trail starts winding up a few switchbacks through a larch/pine forest with thick undergrowth. It then straightens out and parallels Crane Creek to an old road bed. Turning left, follow the level road out to the upper trailhead. The trail is open for the following uses: hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking.

Usage is typically light, closest town is Bigfork
Directions:
From Bigfork, go south on Highway 35 past Woods Bay and turn right after mile marker 23, entering the Beardance trailhead parking. The trailhead is on the east side of the highway.

Location

Area/Length : 2.0 miles
Elevation : 4,370 feet – 4,700 feet

190 pages packed with trailheads, camping spots, and local information around Flathead Lake.

Don’t need the hiking guide, just some basic trail information, do not fret.  Mike has included some beginner to medium hikes on this website.  Depending on were you as staying there is most likely a trail head near you. Thanks for visiting, hope to see you on the trail.
The trail guide is focused on trails, camping and being in the woods.  Mike’s Flathead Lake Trail Guide breaks the area in five easy to use sections.  North of Flathead lake, including The Talley Lake area and due north to Polebridge. East of Flathead Lake, including the Swan Front, Swan Valley, and on into the Hungry Horse recreation area.  The guide contains most every trail Mike has hiked in the last 20 years or plans to hike in the next 20 years.

Hiking Trails: Crater Notch Trail

Trail Guide

Hiking Trail: Crater Notch Trail #187

The Crater Notch Trail is 3.7 miles long and climbs about 3,000 feet. It begins 1/2 mile up the Echo-Brokenleg Trail #544 and ends at the Alpine Trail #7 leading to In-thlam-keh Lake. The trail is open for the following uses for the first 2.7 miles: hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking. After 3.5 miles the trail enters the Jewel Basin Hiking Area where the only allowed use is hiking. Please respect these guidelines.

Usage is typically light, closest town is Bigfork
Directions:
From Bigfork, go north on Highway 35 for 2.3 miles and turn right onto Hwy. 83. Stay on 83 for 2.8 miles, turning left onto Echo Lake Rd. After 2.2 miles, merge slightly right onto the Foothills Road. After 1.1 miles turn right onto Road #5392 also called Jewel Basin Rd. The trailhead is about two miles up the road on the right.

Location

Area/Length : 3.7 miles
Elevation : 3,255 feet – 6,175 feet

190 pages packed with trailheads, camping spots, and local information around Flathead Lake.

Don’t need the hiking guide, just some basic trail information, do not fret.  Mike has included some beginner to medium hikes on this website.  Depending on were you as staying there is most likely a trail head near you. Thanks for visiting, hope to see you on the trail.
The trail guide is focused on trails, camping and being in the woods.  Mike’s Flathead Lake Trail Guide breaks the area in five easy to use sections.  North of Flathead lake, including The Talley Lake area and due north to Polebridge. East of Flathead Lake, including the Swan Front, Swan Valley, and on into the Hungry Horse recreation area.  The guide contains most every trail Mike has hiked in the last 20 years or plans to hike in the next 20 years.

Hiking Trails: Phillips Trail

Trail Guide

Hiking Trail: Phillips Trail #373

The Phillips Trail #373 is 3.8 miles long and climbs about 600 feet; it intersects with Crane Mtn Road #498 and the Beardance Trail #76. This is one of three trails that climb up Crane Mountain. Access by car from Crane Mountain is available 4/1-11/30, otherwise hikers must access from the Flathead Lake side at the Beardance trailhead (4.4 miles up). The trail is open for the following uses: hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking.

Trail Map and Directions

Usage is typically light, closest town is Bigfork
General Information
Directions:
Crane Mtn Access: From Bigfork go south on Highway 35 for 0.7 miles, turning left onto Hwy 209. Stay on 209 for 3 miles, then turn right at the light onto South Ferndale Rd. After 2 miles merge right onto Crane Mountain Rd also called Forest Service Road #498. The trail is 3 miles up on the west side of the road.

Flathead Lake Access: From Bigfork follow Highway 35 south, past Woods Bay, to the Beardance Picnic Area south of mile marker 23. The trailhead is on the east side of the highway, across from the parking lot.

Location

Area/Length : 3.8 miles
Elevation : 3,440 feet – 4,039 feet

190 pages packed with trailheads, camping spots, and local information around Flathead Lake.

Don’t need the hiking guide, just some basic trail information, do not fret.  Mike has included some beginner to medium hikes on this website.  Depending on were you as staying there is most likely a trail head near you. Thanks for visiting, hope to see you on the trail.
The trail guide is focused on trails, camping and being in the woods.  Mike’s Flathead Lake Trail Guide breaks the area in five easy to use sections.  North of Flathead lake, including The Talley Lake area and due north to Polebridge. East of Flathead Lake, including the Swan Front, Swan Valley, and on into the Hungry Horse recreation area.  The guide contains most every trail Mike has hiked in the last 20 years or plans to hike in the next 20 years.