OverviewThere is not a lot of information out there on this peak. If you know any of the history of this mountain, like first ascent and so forth, please let me know.
Information on this page supplemented by references to:
Trails of the Wild Cabinets (TWC) by Dennis Nichols and
100 Hikes in the Inland Northwest(100HIN) by Rich Landers.
Engle Peak is the highest mountain on the southern edge of the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness. As such it provides remarkable views of other peaks in the vicinity and the Clark Fork River Valley. Getting to the top of Engle Peak is not technically difficult as there is a trail that switchbacks up its SW face. However, this route gets a lot of southern exposure and can be exceptionally hot and dry in the summer. The northern and eastern aspects of the peak are more abrupt and can provide for some interestin scrambling and even some technical climbing on loose rock. Approaches from the east/southeast can be done from upper McKay Creek and Wanless Lake. Engle Peak is composed of shale, much of it in broken heaps on the SW aspect.
One interesting aspect of Engle Peak is a long forested ridge that comes off its west face. At its western estremety, it makes a turn to the north, making a large, level basin that contains over a half dozen lakes to Engle's NW. The largest one, Engle Lake, has a good poplulation of small cutthroat trout and is popular with anglers. This lake also has the best camping in the area since the rest of the peak is waterless once the snow melts.
[img:303714:alignleft:small:Engle Peak from Cliff Lake to the north. The west ridge comes off the right side of the peak and turns sharply north (toward the photographer) forming scenic Engle Lake Basin which holds over a half dozen lakes.]Another interesting thing to note is a bear den along the summit trail shortly after it branches from the trail leading down to the lake. With that in mind, hikers and climbers should beware during the Spring and Autumn when the bears are bedding down or waking from hibernation. This is grizzly country and bear precautions should be implemented at all times other than winter.
Engle Peak would make a worthy destination for ski mountaineering during the winter. The only thing, though, is that Rock Creek Road does not get plowed and the trailhead is at 4920' which means either a snow mobile or lots of free time would be needed. Do I need to stress avalanche awareness? Look at the photos in the gallery and imagine what it would be like with lots of unstable snow.
Engle Peak Trail
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Near milepost 17 on Highway 200, turn north onto Rock Creek Road 150. After a few hundred yards/meters, the road 150 splits.Veer to the right or you will will take a very lengthy detour loop. After veering right, drive another 4 1/2 miles to Rd# 2285. Drive about 7 miles to the end of the road and the trailhead, Trail 932.
Mckaey Creek/Wanless Lake Trail
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If approaching from Upper Wanless Lake/Goat Ridge Pass: At about mile marker 18 on Highway 200, turn on to McKay Creek Road #1022 across from the Noxon Dam Road. Follow this road about 4 miles to the trailhead for Trail #924.
Red TapeNo red tape to speak of. However, during periods of extreme forest fire danger, the forest service may close certain trails. Check with the local ranger for current information:
Cabinet Ranger District, Trout Creek Ranger Station
2693 Highway 200
Trout Creek, MT 59874
Phone# (406) 827-3533
FAX: (406) 827-0718
Monday thru Friday 7:30am - 4:00pm
Camping[img:338407:alignleft:medium:Looking down at Engle Lake from the where the trail splits.]
Engle can be done as a long day trip, but some people may elect to camp at Engle Lake. Engle Lake is pretty to look at and has what Dennis Nichols describes as a "feisty population of small cutthroat trout". After snowmelt and during periods of hot weather, the lake can get rather warm near the shore as the stream coming into it and going out of it slow down to a trickle. Be sure to bring a water filter.
[img:306109:alignright:small:The terrain if climbing from Wanless Lake] Camping can also be done at upper Wanless Lake Basin if one desires to negotiate some of the more challenge routes from that side of the peak.
Also, as mentioned before, practice good BEAR safety in this area.