OverviewIn the summer most people traveling on Hwy 2 are driving to or from a destination in Glacier National Park. Little do they know that just to the south is a vast treasure trove of beautiful peaks and high mountain lakes that does, in my humble opinion, rival Glacier National Park in it's rugged beauty...the Great Bear Wilderness.
Mt. Furlong is located along the northern edge of the Great Bear Wilderness. Standing at 7393', it is not a high mountain, but it does take a substantial effort to reach the summit. The views of Glacier National Park to the north and the Great Bear Wilderness to the west and south and, especially, Tranquil Basin to the east are simply outstanding!
FROM ELK MOUNTAIN IN GLACIER NATIONAL PARK
Getting ThereFrom downtown Columbia Falls travel approximately 48 miles east on Hwy 2 to the Nimrod Trailhead. After passing under the railroad truss marking the southern boundary of Glacier National Park, slow down and the large parking area (with restroom facilities) comes into view on the right. An absolutely beautiful area, this is the confluence of Bear Creek and the Middle Fork of the Flathead River.
Route InformationLeave the parking area and head east toward the bridge over Bear Creek and the beginning of the Big River Trail #155.
After crossing the bridge you hit the first and only switchback on the trail almost immediately and initially gain about 300'. The trail flattens out for about the next mile and then you begin losing elevation as you approach the Edna Creek drainage. You lose about 150' of the initial 300' you gained. The Edna Creek Trail #489 intersects from the left just past the creek at about 1.85 miles into the hike.
The Edna Creek Trail aggressively attacks the ridge from the west as it contours along the north side for a little over 2 miles until it hits the top of the ridge at about 5900'. The trail briefly crosses over to the south side before turning back and going up the tree-covered ridge-top. The trail continues up the ridge-top for awhile until again crossing over to the south side.
As the trail continues upward it contours around a couple of drainages.It would be possible to climb these directly to the summit, but we followed the trail until it hit a north/south ridge at the Tranquil Basin Overlook at approximately 5.3 miles and an elevation of 7109'. An elevation gain of approximately 3159' over 3.45 miles...and these views.
Furlong is located to your left at this point and is only an additional 284' in elevation gain over .37 miles. There is a goat/climber's trail that is easy to follow in the beginning but does eventually fade out farther up the ridge. The 'climb" itself was actually quite easy and we never had to use our hands on our way to the summit making this, at most, Class 1+ or 2-.
Summit ViewsSummit views are outstanding in every direction and well worth the effort required to get there. Unfortunately, we were chased off the summit by an impending storm...thus, the lighting in some of the photos is not the best and therefore, they may not do justice to the breathtaking beauty of this area.
Camping/Red TapeThe closest campground is located at Devil Creek which is a few miles further east on Hwy 2.
Mt. Furlong is located in the Flathead National Forest which is bear country. Carry bear spray, don't hike alone and make noise at regular intervals as you hike.
Bring your own water, or, with a filter, you can get water from Bear Creek or the Middle Fork or even Edna Creek. However, late in the summer, in a dry year, Edna Creek could possibly be dry.