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Lightning Peak

Lightning Peak

Lightning Peak

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: Montana, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 48.22667°N / 115.25333°W

Object Title: Lightning Peak

County: Lincoln

Activities: Hiking, Scrambling

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall

Elevation: 4124 ft / 1257 m


Page By: rebelgrizz

Created/Edited: May 15, 2012 / May 15, 2012

Object ID: 790321

Hits: 1044 

Page Score: 86.37%  - 22 Votes 

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At 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.

Getting There

Lightning Peak
Parking area
Lightning Peak
From Kalispell drive west on Hwy 2 for 51 miles to McKillop Road. Turn right here. McKillop Road is a single-lane paved road with turn-outs, but they are few and far between. McKillop passes through one especially steep talus field, some may find this a bit disconcerting and it definitely would not be good to meet oncoming traffic in this portion. Drive for 7.8 miles on McKillop, and then bear right onto #763. Drive for 5.7 miles on #763 (which is also paved) until reaching the turn-off for Cow Creek on the right. Turn here and drive up the gravel/dirt road for .89 miles until reaching a more primitive road on the left. Turn here and park.

Route Information

Lightning Peak
Approaching the cliff band
Lightning Peak
Looking back from the base of the cliff band

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.

Lightning Peak
Looking up through the cliffs
Lightning Peak
View to main ridge from top of cliffs

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.

Lightning Peak
Summit hump-actual summit is not visible
Lightning Peak
Summit meadow

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.

TerrainOne-Way MileageElevation Gain


Camping and RedTape

Lightning 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.

Bear Stuff

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.