OverviewThe Mission Mountain Lookout stands atop Point 3774 in the northern foothills of NW Montana's Mission Range. Situated just to the south of Swan Lake the lookout offers up commanding views of the central portion of the Swan Range to the east, and the northern portion of the Missions.
Getting ThereFrom downtown Whitefish drive south on Hwy 93 for 16 miles to downtown Kalispell. Continue through Kalispell on Hwy 93 south for an additional 8.43 miles to Hwy 82. Turn left or east and drive for 6.87 miles to Hwy 35. Turn right on Hwy 35 and drive south for .4 miles to Hwy 83. Turn left on Hwy 83 and drive south for 53.8 miles to Forest Service Road #10229. Along the way you will pass the long and beautiful Swan Lake to the west. Turn right on #10229.
Route Informationrental. At this point, there are several options. If you are renting the lookout you can drive all the way to the top, or you can look for a place to park along #10229 to make the hike up to an 8 mile round trip, or do something in between, which is what we did.
If you continue driving on #10229, or if you decide to hike it, it is 2.2 miles to FS Road #9803 which intersects from the right. You get to cross the Swan River pictured below on a nice one-lane bridge...
We turned on FS Road #9803 and drove up it a little ways and found a place to park. From the spot where we parked the hike was a little over a mile and gained just a tad over 400'...an easy forest service road hike. The first view of the lookout as you hike up the road is pictured below...
Unfortunately, as we were just dayhiking, and not renting, we could not gain entry to the top portion of the lookout and had to settle for views from just below the deck.
|Terrain||One-Way Mileage||Elevation Gain|
|FS Road #9803||1.13||435'||Total||1.13||435'|
Camping and RedTapeMission Mountain Lookout is located in the Flathead 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 the Mission Mountain Lookout hike but the Mission Mountains are chock full of healthy-sized black bears and grizzlies.
There is no water available on this hike, unless you get it from the Swan River. A map of the Flathead 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 at Swan Lake.
Another item of interest if staying in the area is the Swan River National Wildlife Refuge.