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Bar Z Peak

Bar Z Peak

Bar Z Peak

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: Montana, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 47.99667°N / 114.92667°W

Object Title: Bar Z Peak

County: Flathead

Activities: Hiking

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Elevation: 6304 ft / 1921 m


Page By: rebelgrizz

Created/Edited: Jul 5, 2011 / Jul 5, 2011

Object ID: 726582

Hits: 1122 

Page Score: 82.48%  - 15 Votes 

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Bar Z...hmmm...when I hear that name it makes me think of a big cattle ranch in the Old West with lots of cowboys. Cowboys branding cows, gathered around the chuckwagon after a hard days work, sleeping around the campfire....and of course, lots of critters like the ones pictured below.

In this case, however, Bar Z refers to Bar Z Peak, a massive mountain located in the extreme southwestern portion of NW Montana's Salish Mountains. The summit of Bar Z Peak provides commanding views to the east, SE and NE. On a clear day, from the summit, the hiker has views of four mountain ranges. The Missions to the SE, the Swans to the east, the Whitefish Range to the NE, and of course, much of the Salish Mountains before you. On the way up the route the hiker also gets impressive views of a fifth range to the west, the Cabinets.

Oh yeah, and the guys pictured above actually do belong to a large cattle operation just to the west of Bar Z...the M-T...no, I'm not making that up.

Getting There

Bar Z Peak
Sign on Hwy 2
Bar Z Peak
Parking area
Drive 35.9 miles west of Kalispell on Hwy 2. After you pass the western end of McGregor Lake look for the Bar Z "Mountain" sign on the right side of the road. (The maps say Bar Z Peak...the road sign says mountain.) Turn left on to FS Road #6770. If you park at the first closed gate just after you turn onto #6770 you can add approximately 5 miles round trip of FS Road hiking and approximately 614' of elevation. After completing the hike from 2.5 miles farther up the road, methinks most people would pass on this early option. Drive 2.5 miles up #6770 and park near the closed gate. There is lots of parking in this area.

Route Information

Hike up FS Road #6770 behind the closed gate for 3.3 miles gaining 757' of elevation until you reach the saddle between Bar Z and an un-named point to the east. Some views from the road as you hike are pictured below.

Bar Z Peak
We went up the middle
Bar Z Peak
Early going in the clear-cut

When you arrive at the saddle you are faced with three choices. A road going left, a road going right, and a clear-cut bushwhack in between the two roads. We opted for the clear-cut, which, unfortunately did not remain clear all the way. In hind sight, the road going right may have been the better choice, but we may never know for sure. The clear-cut gradually closes in as you gain elevation and the bushwhack becomes somewhat more difficult.

Bar Z Peak
Bar Z Peak
Start of the bushwhack above the road
Following the path of least resistance we began traversing left (south) through the young-growth pines as we went up. After gaining 444' over .69 miles we popped out onto a road, which I believe originated on the west side of the mountain. At that point, facing even thicker brush above the road we walked left (south) on the road for .28 miles (losing 81' in elevation) looking for a clearer way up that never materialized. Tired of losing elevation we just decided to bust through and go!

Bar Z Peak
Finally clearing out some
Bar Z Peak
Entering old growth on the ridge...and deadfall

Looking for the path of least resistance, .61 miles and 653' later, bushwhacking through more young pines and then old growth with deadfall on the ridge, we made the summit. Bar Z Peak is another Salish summit that formerly housed a lookout, this one perched on the very eastern edge of the summit, not much remains now.

TerrainOne-Way MileageElevation Gain
FS Road3.3757'
Lower Bushwhack.69444'
Logging Road.28-81'
Upper Bushwhack.61653'

Summit Views

Camping and RedTape

Bar Z Peak is located in the Kootenai 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. We saw lots of fresh bear sign on Bar Z and the Salish Mountains are chock full of healthy-sized black bears and the occasional grizzly.

Bear Stuff

There is no water available on this hike. A map of the Kootenai National Forest is also very helpful in negotiating the many FS Roads in the Salish Mountains. Bug repellent is an absolute necessity in Montana in June!

A final note...due to it's proximity to Hwy 2, Bar Z is a great mountain to get out and do some snowshoeing on in the winter or early spring in NW Montana (which is basically the same thing).

Parting Shot