OverviewMount Conner is another quiet, peaceful conditioning hike in the less-traveled Salish Range of Northwestern Montana. The Salish Range is a wonderful area to get in shape for those more demanding climbs in Glacier National Park.
Mount Conner, at 6211', comes in at #22 on the Salish Range peak list. This makes the fourth Salish peak of 2010 where we had the mountain to ourselves. Solitude is another fantastic benefit of these mountains!!
Mount Conner was one of several mountains in this area of the Salish devastated by the Brush Creek fire of 2007. This fire burned a total of 30,000 acres in the Kootenai and the Flathead National Forests with about 85% of that total in the Tally Lake Ranger District of the Flathead National Forest. Most of the land burned was located in the upper reaches of the Sheppard Creek drainage. Other drainages affected were Good Creek and Griffin Creek. This fire was started by lightning on July 26, 2007 and grew steadily for several weeks before being declared contained on August 26.
Mount Conner sits above and to the west of small but beautiful Sylvia Lake. You can try your luck fishing here but make sure to follow all fishing regulations.
Getting ThereFrom downtown Whitefish drive approximately 5 miles north on Rt. 93 until coming to Twin Bridges Road where you will turn left. Drive approximately 1-2 miles on Twin Bridges and then turn right on....yes, Twin Bridges Road again. Travel for a short distance until Twin Bridges dead ends into Farm-To Market Road. Turn right here and travel approximately 5 miles until coming to Star Meadows Road where you will turn left. Follow Star Meadows Road for 17 miles until the pavememnt ends. Continue on unpaved Forest Service Road #113 for approximately 4 miles and then turn left. Travel approximately 1 mile and turn left again. You should now be on FS Road 538B...or you can just follow the signs to Sylvia Lake...which should be approximately 3 miles away at this point.
Trail InformationTrail 171 begins at the northern end of Sylvia Lake where it really is just a continuation coming down off the western end of the Ingalls Mountain ridge. There is a slight elevation loss at the beginning of the trail but then the trail takes off rather steeply to the south while parallelling the lake.
It is approximately 2.25 miles to the false summit. The trail itself, along most of the way, is a narrow, rocky track through an old burn. Much of this rock is very loose so the hiker should be very aware of footing. The false summit consists of broad, grassy meadows with solid views in every direction. This is a great area to stop for a break and enjoy some lunch. These views are much better than from the summit where the views are blocked by trees. It is approximately another 1.25 miles from the false summit to the actual summit. Elevation gain from the trailhead is approximately 1290'.
Red TapeMount Conner is located in the Flathead National Forest which is bear country. And not just black bear country...there are grizzlies in the Salish Range and ornery ones at that as evidenced by this article published in today's Daily Interlake Newspaper. So...carry bear spray and know how to use it AND make lots of noise at regular intervals and don't hike alone.
There is water available at the lake and in early June there was one run-off stream coming off the mountain just before reaching the false summit. Bring a filter or carry your own water.
A Tally Lake Ranger District Map would be MOST HELPFUL negotiating the many Forest Service Roads in this area....available at local outdoor retailers.
CampingCamping is available at Sylvia Lake and Tally Lake Campground.
Cabin rental is available at Star Meadows Guard Station.
Trip OptionsThis hike can be combined with Ingalls Mountain. It also can be done several different ways. The longest and most difficult would be to park at the East End Ingalls Mountain TH for Trail 171. Take the trail across the ridge of Ingalls Mountain...after approximately 3.5 miles leave the trail to the right and climb through a burned area to the summit of Ingalls and find the remnants of an old lookout. Continue onward via Trail 171 in a westerly direction for approximately 4 to 4.5 miles (the author has not hiked this portion) down to Sylvia Lake...take a break and then continue up approximately 3.5 miles to the summit of Mount Conner. Round trip this and you have over 20 miles of hiking with a combined elevation gain/loss of over 8500'. That will get you in shape! Or you have other options of breaking it down into smaller sections over time.
One final note...you can also drive out around the south side of Ingalls Mountain by driving south of the lake and taking your first left which is FS Road #2925. Take this for approximately 7 miles and you will come to the East End TH for Trail 171 on Ingalls Mountain. Continue on around and down the mountain for another 2 miles and you will be back at the beginning of paved Star Meadows Road.
And...a cautionary note...these mountains are being logged...be aware of logging trucks on the narrow FS Roads and also be aware of locals felling trees across the roads for firewood.