OverviewNuma Ridge rises gently from the forest floor just to the NW of Bowman Lake in the "remote" Northfork section of NW Montana's Glacier National Park. The ridge travels for several miles in a SW to NE direction culminating in the ridge's two highpoints, Numa Peak 9003' and Mount Peabody 9216', further to the NE. The second "point" on the SW portion of Numa Ridge on the National Geographic Map is Point 6960 which presents a fantastic vantage point on which to place a lookout. The Numa Ridge Lookout is a "popular" day hike in this portion of the park and is staffed by the park service.
However, whether you're a tourist or a local, don't expect a warm reception when you get to the lookout...when you see the sign posted "This is a private residence" on the lookout, that is a heads-up!
Typically with Glacier, you don't have to get too high for the fantastic views to begin. They usually either start while you're still in your car or practically the moment you step away from it. This area doesn't disappoint, as you can see from the view from the foot of Bowman Lake...pictured below. Numa Peak is the highpoint on the left and if you double-click the photo and carefully follow the ridge-line down to the left you should be able to discern Point 6960 and the lookout.
I was absolutely shocked and appalled at the condition of the road to Bowman Lake. Steep, narrow, winding and full of holes there is barely room for two vehicles to pass on the great majority of this road. On our way out, we were almost knocked off the road by a huge incoming camper (I drive a Ram 1500 4X4), we passed each other within INCHES...absolutely ridiculous for such a popular area in one of our most beautiful national parks.
A single vehicle entry pass for Glacier National Park for one week for the year 2011 is still $25 and a one year pass is $35. Whether you're visiting the area or a local, you'll already more than likely have one or the other.
Route InformationHike along the western edge of Bowman Lake for about .8 miles on the Bowman Lake Trail until it intersects the Numa Lookout Trail to the left. The Numa Lookout Trail angles up through old growth forest on the eastern side of Numa Ridge for several miles. The trail begins contouring to the NE around Point 6960 and throw in a few switchbacks toward the end of the trail just below the lookout and you've reached your destination at exactly 6 miles. Bowman Lake is pictured below...from the trail.
The first view of the lookout...from the trail...pictured below.
|Terrain||One-Way Mileage||Elevation Gain|
J. Gordon Edwards, in his book, "A Climbers Guide To Glacier National Park", states that the "standard route" (those are my words) for Numa Peak is the South Face Route. I won't go into detail here (get the book if you're going to climb in Glacier) but you hike along the lake for 6 miles then make a left in a steep couloir and climb for about 4900 vertical feet.
He also states that a climber by the name of George McFarland climbed Numa on the northeast side of the mountain and that he also climbed it from Numa Ridge. Quote...Numa Peak has also been climbed by McFarland via the ridge from the Numa Fire Lookout, but most climbers who have studied that ridge believe that it looks like a terrible way to reach the summit. I'm certainly no expert mountaineer, but from what we could see of the ridge from Bowman Lake and from the lookout area itself...that route looks like a blast! If you chose to climb Numa Peak from the lookout, the first obstacle, Point 7750', is pictured below and looks quite fun!!
Camping and RedTapeThe Numa Ridge Lookout is located in Glacier National Park, which is bear country. Don't hike alone, make noise as you hike, and carry bear spray and know how to use it, Glacier National Park is chock-full of healthy-sized black bears and grizzlies.
A map of Glacier National Park is helpful. Bug repellent is an absolute necessity in Montana in June, July and August. There is water available at Bowman Lake.
The closest official campground is Bowman Lake Campground.