OverviewCalx Mountain is located in the southwestern portion of Northwest Montana's Salish Mountains. Standing at 6550', Calx is the 10th highest in the range. Due to the height and location of Calx, it is possible, on an optimum viewing day, to see seven different mountain ranges from Calx's lookout. Ironically, the lookout is located about 1/2 mile to the north of the actual summit and is about 50 feet lower, but does not have any of the tree-blocked views of the summit.
The ranges are, in no particular order, to the west (with the best views), the Cabinets, to the immediate SE, Meadow Peak and Lookout in the Salish Mountains, and much further to the SE, the high peaks of the Mission Range. To the immediate east, more green-covered peaks of the Salish, further to the east, the Swans erupt from the east side of the Flathead Valley. To the NE, the Whitefish Range can also be seen. To the NW, the Purcells are visible. Last, but certainly not least, further to the ENE the highest peaks of Glacier National Park are also visible.
From Kalispell drive west on Hwy 2 for approximately 47.8 miles. Turn right on paved Pleasant Valley Road just before the Kickin' Horse Saloon. Drive on Pleasant Valley Road for .2 miles to FS Road #257. Turn left and drive for 6.98 miles to FS Road #2346 and turn left. Drive for 6.42 miles on #2346 to the intersection with FS Road #2348. This is where we parked. A note about the roads, #257 is a wide, dirt road in pretty good shape. FS Road #2346 is a winding, narrow and rocky road with very few pullouts. Most of the pull-outs are located towards the bottom of the road.
IT WOULD NOT BE GOOD TO MEET ONCOMING TRAFFIC ON THIS ROAD. I strongly suggest very good off-road tires for this road, and not to visit this mountain on a week-end, when there might be more traffic on this road.
Most of this hike is on FS Road #2348, however you do have an option. At about the 6000' level, on the south side of the mountain, you can bushwhack
uphill directly to the summit from the road. A good place to leave the road is the large, cut-up tree pictured below.
We opted to hike the road to the lookout and then bushwhack to the summit (not knowing, at the time, that there is an un-maintained trail from the lookout to the summit) and then bushwhack down to the road from the summit, making a sort of small loop in the route, saving some mileage. At about 3 miles into the road hike there is a closed gate. In theory, you could drive this far up #2348, but there was really no place to park without blocking the gate, so I don't recommend doing this, and turning around here could've been problematic.
Prior to reaching the gate you get some decent views to the south, from the road, but after passing the gate, the views to the west, of the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness, begin to open up.
|Terrain||One-Way Mileage||Elevation Gain|
|FS Road to Lookout||4.07||1256'||Trail to Summit||.50||74'||Total||4.57||1330'|
IF YOU DECIDE TO BUSHWHACK STRAIGHT DOWN TO THE ROAD TO THE SOUTH FROM THE SUMMIT, THERE IS AN ELEVATION LOSS OF ABOUT 500' OVER .4 MILES.
As mentioned earlier, the summit is about 1/2 mile to the south from the lookout and was easy to reach via an un-maintained trail...some of which is pictured below.
The actual summit, pictured below, was a rounded, grassy hill. Minimal views, in one direction, to the south. There was a summit register, that we signed. Apparently, the summit of Calx is not visited very often, as the lone signer had been there almost 2 years prior.
Camping and RedTapeCalx Mountain 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 bear sign on Calx Mountain early in the hike on FS Road #2348, and the Salish Mountains are chock full of healthy-sized black bears and the occasional grizzly.
There is water available on this hike (June 2012). A map of the Kootenai National Forest and the Libby Ranger District, are helpful in negotiating the many Forest Service Roads. Bug repellent is an absolute necessity in Montana in June, July and August. No ticks were seen on this hike.
The closest campground is Logan State Park, located on the north side of Middle Thompson Lake in the Thompson Chain of Lakes to the southeast.