At the top of the drainage, Trail #18 intersects the Mount Hefty Trail #15. Here, you can make a left and head toward Mount Hefty, or make a right and head to the Thoma Lookout. The Mount Hefty Trail #15 originates to the southeast of the Thoma Lookout. In my humble opinion, it is not smart to hike to Mount Hefty from the beginning of Trail #15, as this would be close to a 20 mile round-trip and would include extreme elevation loss and gain between the Thoma Lookout and Mount Hefty.
Trail #15 levels out for the first few hundred yards and then makes a turn to the NW and begins gaining elevation on it's way to Point 7507. Early on, you get peek-a-boo views to the east of Glacier National Park to the east. Prior to reaching Point 7507 (pictured below) the trail peters out on the south side of a grassy point. Head straight up here and then bear back to the right (east) and you will be able to regain the trail. From here it is clear sailing to the top of Point 7507, if that is where you choose to go. We recommend bailing off the trail prior to reaching the top and side-hilling around to save some elevation gain and loss.
If you choose to hike to the top of Point 7507, look to the NW, and Mount Hefty presents itself.
Both the Flathead National Forest Map and the Glacier View Ranger District Map show Trail #15 going all the way to the summit of Hefty. However, we found no discernible trail after leaving Point 7507. It is also not necessary to continue to Hefty along the tops of the various ridge sections, particularly the first two, to save some elevation gain and loss, as the picture below shows.
Hike down from Point 7507, (as mentioned earlier, it is not necessary to go to the top of Point 7507, side-hilling will again, save some elevation gain and loss,) for almost a quarter mile losing over 200' to the saddle between Point 7507 and the beginning of the first section of Hefty's ridge. Hike up the ridge until it looks like you're even with the beginning of the next section of the ridge and then begin your low traverse of the first section.
Ascend the second section of ridge just enough to stay above the snow (on the right) and shortly you will find yourself just below the final pitch to the summit. The picture below shows the route from the summit of Hefty.
After retracing your steps from the summit back to the saddle, the photo below shows a suggested route back to Trail #15. Don't forget, you still have to regain about 200', but if you continue to the top of Point 7507, it would be more than that.
|Terrain||One-Way Mileage||Elevation Gain|
|Closed 114-A||.74||262'||Trail #18||1.72||1178'||Trail #15||1.57||1136'||Descent to saddle||.22||-298'||Ridge to Summit||.88||340'||Total||5.13||2916'|