Welcome to the Trail Well Traveled!
Each Friday, in partnership with Montana Wilderness Association we will feature a new western Montana trail and then give you some helpful details and tips to get on your way!
All this hot weather has finally made the high country accessible, so this week Craig is sending just a short drive north to the beautiful and wild Swan Range.
The biggest challenge of this rich hike is NOT stepping on wildflowers; the biggest surprise may be catching a glimpse of Glacier National Park from the summit.
Total Elevation Gain: 3,500 feet
Directions: From Missoula, head east on I-90 to the Bonner exit, and then drive Highway 200 north to Clearwater. There, you’ll turn left onto Highway 83 through Seeley for about a 45-minute drive to Goat Creek Road (between mile markers 58 and 59).
Turn right and follow Goat Creek Road for 4.7 miles, and then turn right onto Napa Point Road. It’s another 7 miles to the trailhead.
Note: The sign at Napa Point Road may be missing or hard to spot, so watch your odometer and be ready to turn precisely at 4.7 miles from the sign near the highway.
What to expect: The trailhead for Napa Point Trail #31 is located near an old fire lookout at 6,413 feet. You’ll start through an intensely green natural garden then quickly climb to a ridge line – from there, enjoy inspiring views of the Missions and the Swans.
Swan Peak, the second highest point in the range (9,289 feet), comes into view after about a mile and a half. Holland Peak, the highest (9,356) is about 15 miles south.
After 2.5 miles, the trail descends to intersect with Alpine Trail #7 – make some extra noise as you approach, as the area is thickly vegetated with huckleberries and other bear food. Turn north onto the Alpine Trail and follow the signs about a mile to Inspiration Pass (NOT Inspiration Point) and another mile to the Warrior Mountain approach.
When you reach the sign with a large ‘X’ – on the right side, about two miles north of the junction of the Napa Point and Alpine trails – you’ll leave the trail and head east cross-country to the summit.
At the top of Warrior Mountain, you’ll be looking over some of the most productive wildlife habitat in America: wolverines, grizzlies, mountain goats, and elk all call the land home.
If the sky is clear you will easily see peaks in Glacier. Hungry Horse Reservoir is to your left and easy to identify. Most of the distant land in front of you is part of the Bob Marshall Wilderness
Tip: It will take about 6 hours and 30 minutes depending on the number of photo and hucklebery stops enjoyed. Important things to bring include water (no stream crossings), rain shell (it can be rainy and windy), food (no huckleberry guarantee), and a map (Warrior Mountain isn’t hiked by many, a map will help you find your way). Additional items that you should consider include bear spray, GPS, compass, insect spray, hat, sunscreen, and trekking poles.
Learn more about this trail, file your own trip report and photos, or check out some other great hikes at hikewildmontana.org. And don’t forget to tune in to the Trail 103.3 each Friday at 9:50 am for the next featured trail and your chance to win!
Big thanks to Rangitsch Bros RV for sponsoring the Trail Well Traveled. Proudly serving Missoula for over 56 years, whatever camper best suits your needs Rangitsch Bros has got it!