OverviewBarren Peak...if ever a peak was mis-named, this one would certainly qualify. There is nothing remotely barren about Barren Peak. This heavily forested mountain is located in the southeastern portion of the Cabinet Mountains.
Barren has an old abandoned lookout at the summit, and farther down the ridge to the NE, spectacular views of the higher peaks of the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness, beginning with Carney Peak, are available.
Enroute to Barren you will pass several other minor peaks of the Cabinets located along Hwy 2, in order, from Kalispell: Bowers Peak, Wapiti Mountain, Fosseum Mountain, Kenelty Mountain, and Jumbo Peak.
This 10' wooden tower with L-4 cab, built in 1940, replaced an earlier camp. The lookout has been abandoned since the 1970's.
Getting ThereFrom Kalispell drive west on Hwy 2 for 63.3 miles and then turn left on FS Road #231. Drive for 3.56 miles on #231 until reaching the TH. You will actually have to drive past the TH for a little way to find parking.
Hike up #299 for about 2.7 miles, paralleling an un-named drainage for a good portion of the way, gaining almost 2000' in elevation, until hitting the junction with the Divide Trail #6.
Turn left here and head NE toward the summit on Trail #6.
Hike on Trail #6 for a little over 3/4 of a mile until reaching the last high point along the ridge before the summit. The main trail (#6) continues onward toward the NE past and below the summit. There is a tree with a signpost on it on this high-point. Walk to the edge of the high-point and then turn right and walk along the edge until spotting an un-marked spur trail that will take you to the summit and the old lookout.
The spur trail is approximately a little over 1/4 mile. The closer you get to the actual summit, the trail fades in and out to some degree and can be hard to follow, but the summit is not hard to find, just keep looking up through the trees. There is an approximate gain of about 350' from the junction of #299 and #6 to the summit with some ups and downs along the ridge.
|Terrain||One-Way Mileage||Elevation Gain|
|Trail #299||2.7||1954'||Trail #6/Spur||1.12||337'||Total||3.82||2291'|
Here's the rub. There are no views at the summit due to the lookout having been abandoned since the 1970's, the trees have grown and blocked all the views. If you want views of the higher peaks of the Cabinets, descend from the summit back down to the high-point where the spur trail begins and pick up Trail #6. We headed NE for approximately 1 mile to where the trees cleared out on the ridge and were treated to the views you see below. There are more ups and downs along this portion of the ridge also.
Camping and RedTapeBarren 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 did see bear sign on this hike, and the Cabinet Mountains are chock full of healthy-sized black bears and the occasional grizzly.
There is water available on this hike. A map of the Kootenai National Forest and the Libby Ranger District is helpful in negotiating the many Forest Service Roads. Bug repellent is an absolute necessity in Montana in June, July and sometimes August. No ticks were seen on this hike.
The closest campground is Lake Creek Campground located a few miles farther west off of Hwy 2.