OverviewThe Baptiste Lookout is a de-commissioned lookout located in the Flathead Range of NW Montana. The lookout is located just west of the Great Bear Wilderness boundary which crosses the summit of Mount Baptiste, 8396', the third highest summit in the Great Bear. The lookout vantage point offers up fantastic views of Baptiste, Point 7946 and the Silver Basin.
Stupendous views to the west across the Hungry Horse Reservoir to the Jewel Basin in the Swan Range will also capture the attention of the stalwart hiker.
This is a Class 1 trail hike but due to the length and the elevation gain involved this is a STRENUOUS hike! The Baptiste Lookout would serve as a great staging area for further exploration into the wild and rugged Great Bear Wilderness.
Getting ThereFrom downtown Columbia Falls drive 7.1 miles to Martin City, turning right at the sign denoting the east side of the Hungry Horse Reservoir. The road forks almost immediately, take the right fork past the Deer Lick Saloon. Drive 34.5 miles down this road. Initially, it is pavement but does change into hard-packed dirt and gravel. In August 2011 it is in pretty good shape and passenger cars can easily travel upon it. Look for the sign pictured below. Turn left here onto FS Road #1625...continue on 1625 for .7 miles and turn left again onto FS Road #1632. This road is not marked. Continue on 1632 for .7 miles until you see the Baptiste Lookout TH #63 on the right.
The trail continues around the side of the mountain and eventually begins to cross through Silver Basin below Mount Baptiste. We encountered many water crossings...too many to count...but only one was deep and wide enough to force us to cross on some handy logs from an avalanche that had occurred at some time.
There were several muddy areas along the trail as Silver Basin was still retaining some snow in areas above the trail and also on the trail as evidenced by the fresh bear tracks we came across. We knew they were fresh tracks as we came across fresh scat about 10 yards further up the trail.
At the lowest point in Silver Basin there is still about 500' of elevation to be gained...most of this gained on two switchbacks up to the summit of Point 6698 and the Baptiste Lookout...pictured below from Silver Basin. Unfortunately, the Forest Service has broken the stairs to the lookout so it is not possible to go up into the cab.
THIS IS A STRENUOUS HIKE!
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Camping and RedTapeThe Baptiste Lookout is located in the Flathead National Forest, which is bear country. Don't hike alone, make noise as you hike, and carry bear spray and know how to use it.
A map of the Flathead National Forest is helpful. Bug repellent is an absolute necessity in Montana in June, July and August. There is water available in Silver Basin...bring a filter or carry your own water.
The closest official campground is at Devil's Corkscrew.