Diamond Peak is located in Northwest Montana's Whitefish Range. Often overlooked in favor of its' more famous neighbor to the east, Glacier National Park, the Whitefish Range offers up comparable benefits to those found in Glacier. Solitude, views, and wildlife are three of those benefits, and while we saw no wildlife on Diamond Peak, (although there were signs) we certainly were rewarded with solitude and some solid views.
Those views include countless peaks in both the Livingston and the Lewis and Clark Ranges of Glacier, including Mount Cleveland, Glacier's highest, and views up and down the Whitefish Range, including Nasukoin Mountain, the highest summit in the U.S. portion of the Whitefish Range.
Getting ThereDiamond can be accessed via either the west side or the east side. The access on the west side is not marked. We chose east side access due to the higher starting elevation by about 1000' feet and what looked like a shorter hike on the Glacier View R.D. Map of the Flathead National Forest.
From Columbia Falls drive east on Hwy 2 for 16.2 miles to the West Glacier entrance to Glacier National Park. Drive through the park for two miles approaching the Apgar area. At the first stop sign, turn left and drive up the Camas Road for 11.7 miles until it intersects the infamous Northfork Road. Turn left on the Northfork Road and drive for 2.06 miles until coming to FS Road #316. Turn right and drive for .87 miles to FS Road #317. Turn right here and drive for 12.4 miles until coming to a fork. FS Road #317-B continues straight ahead, but turn left on FS Road #317 and drive for .31 miles until coming to FS Road #1684. Turn right here and drive for 7.09 miles until reaching the trailhead. FS Road #1684 is not in the best of shape, one might consider a high clearance vehicle for this one.
A single vehicle entry pass for Glacier National Park for one week for the year 2012 is still $25 and an annual pass is $35. Whether you're visiting the area or a local, you'll more than likely already have one or the other.
Hike up the Haines Pass Trail for just over 1.5 miles gaining almost 850'. This trail had not been cleared in 2012, so there was a fair amount of deadfall to contend with. Make a right (north) at the intersection with the Whitefish Divide Trail #26. Hike up this trail a short distance and the Haines Pass Trail from the west intersects on the left. Bypass this and keep going straight on #26 for a total of 2.3 miles, gaining over 1000', until reaching Diamond's northern saddle with Point 7323, pictured below.
From here, if you turn to your left, Diamond's broad north ridge presents itself. The north ridge proved to be an easy walk-up. The summit was rather unimpressive, the highpoint was covered in a cluster of small trees.
|Terrain||One-Way Mileage||Elevation Gain|
|Trail #6||1.6||832'||Trail #26||2.3||1017'||North Ridge to Summit||.23||156'||Total||4.13||2005'|
We decided to descend the south ridge to shorten the hike.
If you don't want to hike across the east face of Diamond to the north ridge, the option of ASCENDING the south ridge presents itself, at the point pictured below, just off of Trail #26.
Camping and RedTapeDiamond Peak 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. We did see bear sign on this hike, and the Whitefish Range is chock full of healthy-sized black bears and the occasional grizzly.
There is water available on this hike. A map of the Flathead National Forest 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 official campground is at Upper Whitefish Lake.