Little Sutton Mountain 6654' is located on a long, boomerang-shaped ridge nestled in between the two highest summits in NW Montana's Salish Mountains, Sutton Mountain 6872' to the NE and McGuire Mountain 6991' to the NW. Ironically, Little Sutton is the 7th highest summit in the range, but has been, by far, the easiest summit to obtain of the Salish Mountains we have summitted to this point. Views from the summit are somewhat blocked by trees, but if you're in the area to see the McGuire Mountain Lookout, it just makes sense to summit Little Sutton, either going to or coming from McGuire. We actually did the latter, being pressed for time due to incoming weather, we definitely wanted to do McGuire first.
Beginning of trail from parking area
Parking area from trail
Drive 35.6 miles north on Hwy 93 from downtown Whitefish. Turn left at the "Trego" sign just past Dickey Lake. Drive 2.9 miles through "downtown Trego" and then turn left on #36 (Fortine Creek Rd). Drive 3.28 miles to Edna Creek Road (#433) and turn right. This road is paved for the first 8 miles...after driving 16.5 miles there is an intersection with FS Road #1900...turn left here. After 1.3 miles on #1900 there is another intersection. Go straight here and the road changes to FS Road #494...stay on this road for 4.1 miles until you arrive at the saddle between Sutton Mountain and Little Sutton Mountain and park. The last 1.2 miles of this road up to the saddle is very rocky...proceed with caution...and you should have good tires.
If you're in the area to see the McGuire Mountain Lookout, or stay in it, and you're using Trail #446 from the east, once you hit the upper switchback of the trail on the south side of Little Sutton, at about 6500', you've already done most of the "climbing" to reach the summit of Little Sutton. It just makes sense to make the short, off-trail bushwhack to the summit, either on the way to McGuire, or coming back. We did it on the way back. You can actually start the bushwhack from anywhere along the upper switchback on the trail and possibly make the bushwhack even shorter than we did.
Beginning of our bushwhack
Terrain to summit
The bushwhack is short and extremely easy through open forest. As stated earlier, summit views are limited due to trees, but you can get glimpses of McGuire on the way up that we took, and also of Sutton...pictured below... from the summit, when you arrive.
Camping and RedTape
Little Sutton Mountain 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 Little Sutton Mountain, the Salish Mountains are chock full of healthy-sized black bears and the occasional grizzly.
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 and July.
As mentioned earlier, Little Sutton is one of four named summits on a long boomerang-shaped ridge. On a long summer day it would be very possible to summit all four of these McGuire, Little Sutton, Sutton and Lydia. You also might be able to throw in Pinkham located just to the SE, for good measure.
"I have been up to see the Congress and they do not seem to be able to do anything except to eat peanuts and chew tobacco, while my army is starving."
--Robert E. Lee