OverviewPaul Mountain is located in the northeastern portion of the Salish Mountains. Located just south of the "metropolis" of Trego, Montana (pop. 437) Paul Mountain is another Salish mountain that surprises you with it's views, especially of the Whitefish Range. Another pleasant surprise was the beautiful and peaceful Louis Lake where the hike begins. Last, but certainly not least, SOLITUDE!!!
Hike .56 miles up the road next to the lake. You will go through a gate and up a couple of switchbacks gaining a small amount of elevation. This is a northern approach and in June 2011 there was still some snow on the road but it was easy to navigate. When you come to the next road make a left. Hike .14 miles up the road to #3736 and then make a right, where you will encounter another gate to go around.
We had originally intended this hike to be a short, straight-forward bushwhack, after making #3736 and then trying to find a fairly open way up that we had found on Google Earth, with an imagery date of June 2009. Unfortunately, pine trees grow fast, so the vegetation was thick AND wet from a previous day's rain. Instead, we opted to make it a FS Road hike for as long as possible, because we knew that #3736 wrapped around the western flank of Paul and then turned to the south and upward towards the summit.
Proceed along the western flank for 2.49 miles until you come to one last fork where you need to stay left. Along the way, the views open up to the west and you get good views of Sunday Mountain. There is some minor elevation gain/loss along the western flank, but it remains fairly level for the most part.
After staying left at the fork, proceed up the road for another 1.37 miles to the end of the road. Almost all of the elevation gain on the road is during the last mile or so.
Just before reaching the end of the road you will pass some rather foreboding cliffs of a false summit. These are easily bypassed by staying on the road to it's end, where you're able to start the short bushwhack portion of the hike from a much easier position.
The bushwhack portion of the hike is quite short, through very open terrain, with some deadfall. Very easy as bushwhacks go, .19 of a mile with a gain of 173'. The summit area itself, pictured below, was rather unimpressive, partially covered by tall trees, blocking views to the west and to the north. However, views to the east and the south, from the summit and the road up to the summit were quite special.
Terrain One-Way Mileage Elevation Gain Forest Service Road 4.56 467' Bushwhack .19 173' Total 4.75 640'
Road & Summit Views
Camping and RedTapePaul Mountain is located in the Kootenai National Forest which is bear country. Don't hike alone, make noise as you hike, and carry bear spray and know how to use it. The Salish Mountains are chock full of healthy-sized black bears and the occasional grizzly.
Plenty of water is available at Louis Lake. A Kootenai National Forest Map is helpful in negotiating the roads to get there.
The closest campgrounds are located at Stillwater Lake Campground and North Dickey Lake.