OverviewAt 4124', Lightning Peak is small, even by NW Montana's Salish Mountains standards. The Salish Mountains highest summit, McGuire Mountain stands tall at 6991'. But, Lightning Peak proves once again, that the old saying is true, "Good things come in small packages".
When you pull into the parking area and the first thing you see is an unexpected scrambling opportunity, you know it is going to be a good day. This, along with outstanding views of some surrounding Salish summits, and views of the beginnings of the Cabinets to the west, with Fisher Mountain, AND the isolation provided here make this peak a very worthwhile destination.
This is a straightforward bushwhack up the ridge to the summit. From the parking area, the ridge is split by a steep wooded gully. We opted for the left or north side which looked to be more open with better scrambling opportunities.
Upon reaching the base of the cliff band, there were many, many options through from which to choose. Class 2 and 2+ routes (which required the use of hands) abounded. The scrambling here was fun but all too brief.
Once through the initial cliff band, there were other smaller bands which could be avoided if so desired, thus the remainder of the excursion became, just a really, really, steep hike. Reaching the summit is rather anti-climactic, as it is just a broad rounded meadow, but the views to the east, south, and west were terrific.
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Camping and RedTapeLightning 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. We saw no bear sign on Lightning Peak, but the Salish Mountains are chock full of healthy-sized black bears and the occasional grizzly.
There is no water available on this hike, but you can certainly grab some from the wild and scenic Fisher River on your way in, just make sure to treat/filter the water appropriately. A map of the Kootenai National Forest and the Libby Ranger District is 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.
We noticed two different campgrounds along #763, which runs along the Fisher River, but they are not marked on any map that I own.