And such horns! The bachelors that owned his guidance had various horns, reflecting each the owner's life and gifts: some rough half-moons, some thick, some thin. But Krag's curled in one great sweep, three quarters of a circle, and the five year-marks told, first, beginning at the point, of the year when he was a Lamb, and grew the straight long spikes that had helped him so well in his early fight; next year the growth thicker and much longer; the next two years told of yet more robust growth with lesser length; but the last was record of a year of good food, of perfect health, and unexampled growth, for the span grown then was longer, wider, and cleaner horns than any of the others.
Tucked away under the protecting shadow of each rugged base, like things too precious to expose, were his beautiful eyes. Dark brown when he was a Lamb, yellowish brown when a yearling, they were now, in his early prime, great orbs of shining gold, or splendid amber jewels, with a long, dark, misty depth in each, through which the whole bright world was born and mirrored on his brain.
-from Krag, the Kootenay Ram
-a short story from the book, Lives of the hunted, by Ernest Thompson Seton
This short story had quite an impact on Northwest Montana's Whitefish Range, as three peaks are named after characters in the story, the author has a peak named for him, and "Gunder Peak" from the book, some say, is really Tuchuck Mountain near the Canadian border. Krag Peak, of course, is named for the main character, Krinklehorn Peak is named for Krinklehorn, Krag's bullying adopted brother, and Mount Scotty 6510' is named for Scotty MacDougall, the "evil" great white hunter who relentlessly pursues Krag for his one-of-a-kind set of horns. The author states that much of the story, written in the late 1800's, is historical in nature, whatever the case, Krag, the Kootenay Ram, at least, in my humble opinion, is the best story in the book and makes the book worth purchasing.
Krag Peak 7510', is the highest of a trio of peaks that sit relatively close to one another in the northern Whitefish Range of NW Montana. Next to, and just to the south of Krag, lies Krinklehorn Peak 7411', next to and to the SW of Krinklehorn lies Deep Mountain 7406'. Like many mountains in the Whitefish Range, the western aspect of the these peaks is steeply forested while the eastern and northern faces are gouged out, rugged, rocky and cliffy. While these peaks are not high by anyone's definition they do require you to work and work hard to achieve their summits. Krag's summit provides spellbinding views of Krinklehorn's epic walls of limestone and the rocky point of Deep Mountain. There are many other views to be had from Krag, such as the peaks of the Northfork area of Glacier National Park to the east and the rest of the Whitefish Range which sprawls away to the north, south, and east...but your eyes WILL always be drawn back to the mesmerizing Krinklehorn, which I have affectionately nick-named "The Beast"...pictured below.
From the saddle you just hang a left and begin ascending the ridge to the summit of Krag. The very beginning of the ridge provides the most challenging portion of the climb, and is almost a scramble, you could probably make it one if you veered to the right to the more severe cliffs. Saddle to summit was about .6 miles gaining about 670'.
The second and highest point along the ridge (other than the summit itself) is pictured below.
Perhaps the best view of the hike was of Krinklehorn (pictured below) from the point on the ridge in the above picture.
The rest of the route up the ridge consisted mostly of hiking up a wide swath of grass with a few trees and a couple of small cliffs that you could choose to climb if so desired, until reaching the summit area pictured below.
A view of the entire route up Krag from the summit of Krinklehorn is pictured below.
|Terrain||One-Way Mileage||Elevation Gain|
Camping and RedTapeKrag 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. Although we saw no bear sign specifically on Krag Peak, the Whitefish Range is chock full of healthy-sized black bears and grizzlies.
There is no water available on this hike. A map of the Kootenai National Forest is helpful in negotiating the many Forest Service Roads. Bug repellent is an absolute necessity in Montana in June, July and August.
The closest campground is Grave Creek located just off Stoken Road...you will pass it on the way to the trailhead.
Trip OptionsFor the intrepid hiker/climber it might be possible to climb all three of these peaks in a day. It would make more sense to do it over a two-day period, possibly camping in the basin east of Krag and Krinklehorn. It would also make sense to make it a point-to-point hike which would include the need for two vehicles.
Since I have climbed all three...here is how I would do it if I were to do it in one trip. Drive the first vehicle to the Krinklehorn TH for Deep Mountain and leave it there. Drive to the TH mentioned on this page with the second vehicle. Start your hike and summit Krag first...this might be enough for some folks in a day. In any event, you must descend to the saddle and then descend over the saddle to the east for the route up Krinklehorn.
Camp in the basin for the night next to one of the un-named lakes or take on Krinklehorn to finish the day.
Next day, take on Krinklehorn first, or if already done, continue hiking up and out of the basin toward Deep Mountain. The trail runs just below the summit of Deep, achieving that summit is a short and easy off-trail mini-scramble. After summitting, descend back to the trail and continue down the mountain to your first vehicle.
The Rexford/Fortine R.D. map of the Kootenai N.F. lists this trail as 11.5 miles one way. In my experience, in some cases, the mileages listed on their maps and their trail signs can be off, so I would not be surprised if it is longer than that.
Approximate elevation gain to climb the three peaks would be approaching 6000' and an elevation loss of about 2000'.