OverviewNestled in between the steel ribbons of the Burlington-Northern Santa Fe Railroad and the pot-holed asphalt of US Highway 93 lies a small and obscure mountain called Dog. Dog Mountain is located in NW Montana's Salish Mountains. Certainly not a destination "climb" for 99.9% of the population, Dog proved to be a fun Class 2 bushwhack up the mountain proper after negotiating several miles of icy Forest Service Roads (on foot). Views of the Salish Mountains to the west and the Whitefish Range to the east were better than expected. In the foreground of each of these views were two nice lakes. Dog Lake, still frozen, serves as the foreground of views to the southeast of the Whitefish Range and frozen, Upper Stillwater Lake, serves as the foreground to views west of the Salish Mountains.
In 1935, a 20' pole L-4 tower was erected on Dog to serve as a fire lookout. Unfortunately, this was destroyed in 1961, however, there are still remnants of the lookout at the summit.
After crossing the bridge you arrive at what appears to be a convergence of several forest service roads. Bear right, and then take the left fork. After taking several strides, look into the trees to the right and you will see a shot-up road sign which verifies you are on the correct road.
From this point it is just a matter of hiking on the road for another approximately 1.91 miles. At this point, the road kind of forks again, take the right fork. Prior to reaching this point there are several ups and downs along the road and at one point, if you choose, you can take a road off to the left and hike right along the railroad tracks. We did not do this but, during the hike we heard two trains pass and caught glimpses of one through the trees. You will also pass several small un-named ponds/lakes along the way...all mostly frozen on this hike. Almost immediately after taking the right fork the old logging road appears on the left. This road is not on the map. We chose to go up the road to see how far we could get before starting to bushwhack. After going up the road for .37 miles we ran across the fresh bear tracks in the snow and decided to head in the opposite direction...which was up the mountain.
The initial up-hill bushwhack to the first false summit consisted of gaining just shy of 200' over .13 miles. Bushwhack photos below...
Along the broad ridge-top, there are gains and losses over the three false summits. Gaining 60' additional feet over .23 miles the summit is finally gained where one finds the ruins of an old lookout.
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Camping and RedTapeDog Mountain is located in the Stillwater State Forest contained within 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 saw fresh bear sign on Dog Mountain and the Salish Mountains are chock full of healthy-sized black bears and the occasional grizzly.
There is plenty of water available on this hike. Bring a filter if you don't carry your own water. A map of the Flathead National Forest and the Tally Lake Ranger District is helpful in negotiating the many Forest Service Roads. I referred to this map countless times during this hike. Bug repellent is an absolute necessity in Montana in June, July and August, not so much in April.
The closest campground is at Upper Stillwater Lake .