Nestled deep in the heart of the Whitefish Range stands Nasukoin Mountain. Nasukoin in Kootenai means "chief". That is an appropriate name for this mountain as it is the highest peak in the United States' portion of the Whitefish Range and the fourth highest overall in the entire range with the three higher peaks located in British Columbia.
Getting ThereGetting there is an exercise in patience as you must travel over many miles of unpaved, rocky roads.
But, to begin, drive 18.5 miles north of Whitefish on Highway 93. Turn right on the access road to Upper Whitefish Lake which is almost directly across the highway from the Olney turnoff located between mile markers 145 and 146.
Drive up the main dirt and rock-filled road for almost 19 miles until you come to a large turnout on the left and signs indicating Link Lake Rd # 589. Turn left on Link Lake Rd and follow it for approximately 1.5 miles until you see the meadows on the right...the trail begins just beyond the meadows.
Two-wheel drive, low clearance vehicles were parked at the trailhead the day we were there but I would certainly recommend a high clearance vehicle for these roads.
Trail InformationNasukoin Mountain is a walk-up, but it is an extremely strenuous 12 mile round-trip hike to attain the summit. There are significant elevation losses and gains that must be overcome on the trail. The first is the worst...about 500' down the east side of Lake Mountain on switchbacks.
Lake Mountain. SP Member Cougar14 has done an excellent job detailing the rigors involved in attaining Lake Mountain's summit.
For the sake of continuity I will briefly give those details again. Follow the Link Lake Trail #372 for about 1 to 1.5 miles until it forks left. Take the left fork which is Nasukoin Trail #375. Numerous switchbacks take you up the next approximately 2 miles to the summit of Lake for an approximately 1800' elevation gain.
Before setting off...take the time to enjoy or dread...whichever you prefer... the rest of your route to Nasukoin. The trail wraps around the far side of the connecting ridge...where you will encounter two more areas of elevation loss...neither as bad as the first...but one of which you will not be looking forward to on your way back.
The trail is easy to follow...in some places there are cairns...but these really aren't needed. The trail is very rocky, particularly after you descend the Lake Mountain switchbacks.
At this point, on the first section of the last group of switchbacks coming off the ridge, one could leave the trail and bushwack over to the rocky, small cliffs of the SW ridge of Nasukoin and ascend the ridge directly to the summit. We opted for the trail as the rock looked very loose and the ridge is steeper than it looks from a distance.