OverviewAt 6349' Mount Swaney is the highpoint of Swaney Ridge, a relatively short ridge running in an east/west direction in Northwest Montana's Salish Range. Easily accessed by the extensive network of Forest Service and logging roads in the area, Mount Swaney is just a walk-up but makes a great springtime warm-up for tougher climbs later in the season. Mount Swaney comes in at #12 on the Salish Range peak list, but is the second highest in this area, second only to Elk Mountain at 6587'. Thus, it commands superb views of surrounding Salish peaks. Another outstanding feature of hiking in the Salish Range is the lack of crowds or other people at all, for that matter. Solitude is one reason why we hike/climb!!
Mount Swaney is another mountain that was severely burned by the Brush Creek Fire of 2007. This lightning caused fire burned for several weeks in the Salish Range in the summer of 2007 before being contained. It burned approximately 30,000 acres in the Kootenai and Flathead National Forests and had adverse effects on several mountains in the area and several drainages.
Getting ThereDrive 16 miles north of downtown Whitefish on Hwy 93. Turn left on Good Creek Road which is just north of Lower Stillwater Lake. Travel 6 miles on paved Good Creek Road. Continue onward on un-paved Good Creek Road (#60) for an additional 8 miles and then turn left on 60-A (Greg Creek Rd). Proceed on the gravel road for an additional 5 miles to Forest Service Road #10432 which serves as your "trailhead". Be mindful of obstacles on the road such as the one below while driving!
Trail InformationForest Service Road #10432 is your route to the summit ridge of Mount Swaney. Just proceed up the road for approximately 2.8 miles to the end of the road just below the summit ridge. There are two different forks in the road as you proceed upward....just bear right each time and you are on the right route.
Your view at the end of the road is a side of the mountain totally devastated by fire.
Backtrack a few yards at this point and look for a convenient way up through the burned-out ridge to the summit. Your summit ridge bushwack is approximately .3 of a mile. There is lots of downed timber, but the footing, for the most part, is solid and you should have no problem picking your way through the burn to the summit.
Red Tape and CampingMt. Swaney is located in the Flathead National Forest which is bear country, so, don't hike alone, make plenty of noise at regular intervals along the trail, and carry bear spray!
There is water available in the area at the beginning of the hike but we chose to bring our own. Insect repellent is also an item you might want to bring. A Tally Lake Ranger District Map is also very helpful in negotiating the many FS and logging roads in the area available at local outdoor retailers. Many of the mountains in this area of the Salish Range are being logged so beware of logging trucks on the narrow FS Roads and of locals felling trees across the roads for firewood.
Closest campgrounds are Tally Lake and Sylvia Lake.
Cabin rental is available at Star Meadows.
Trip Options and a Final NoteMount Swaney, in itself, is not a difficult hike....approximately 1050' in elevation gain and a little over 6 miles of round trip hiking. However, coupled with Fox Mountain which is approximately 600' in elevation gain and a little over 4 miles of round trip hiking AND Dunsire Point which is approximately 700' in elevation gain and over 6 miles of round trip hiking....YOU HAVE A FULL DAY!! These 3 mountains all have trailheads on the same road approximately 2 miles apart. Combine any two or do all three in one day...
Dunsire & Fox=1300' & 10 miles
Swaney & Fox=1650' & 10 miles
Dunsire & Swaney=1750' & 12 miles
Dunsire, Fox & Swaney=2350' & 16 miles
A final note....the sign on Forest Service Road #10432 Gate states that the road is closed to the public...period. Not encouraging anyone to break the law...but this is public land and we saw absolutely no reason for the closure, so we completed the hike. Do so at your own risk.