OverviewFIRST OF ALL, I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS ROUTE UNLESS YOU ARE INTO EXTENDED BUSHWACKING THROUGH DENSE VEGETATION.
Kerr Mountain is located in NW Montana's Salish Range. It is accessed just off Forest Service Road #917 to the Blacktail Mountain Ski Area. Check out Flatheadnative's excellent pages for both mountains and the Salish Range.
After reading the Kerr Mountain page we were intrigued about the possibility of a quick climb through cliffs to reach the summit from the opposite side of the mountain from the route depicted on the main page. Little did we know that this route would involve an extended bushwack around a LONG-ABANDONED Forest Service road.
Route DescriptionThe route begins at a gate for Forest Service Road #5227. Stay left at two different junctions and you are on Forest Service Road #5228 where the route quickly degenerates into a fierce, extended bushwack along a long-abandoned forest service road that encircles most of the mountain at an approximate elevation of 5500'.
This bushwack was bad enough in October after some cool nights had killed some of the vegetation. It would be much worse in spring and summer with insects and much thicker plant growth.
This "road" bushwack continues for approximately 3 miles. There are some open spots along the road but the great majority of this is extremely unpleasant...especially when the vegetation is wet, which is when we did it.
At the spot pictured below you are able to see the summit ridge up and to your left. This is where you begin the upward open forest bushwack to reach the summit ridge.
This portion, although much shorter, at about .4 miles and more open than much of the road is actually more difficult.
DOZENS UPON DOZENS IF NOT HUNDREDS!!!
These trees are bad news. Every couple of inches along the trunk a sharp, broken branch extended upward, outward, anywhichwayward, just so it could stick you in the leg or the arm.
Proceed upward through the trees, picking your way through the areas of least resistance until you can see the cliffs through the trees.
Upon reaching the base of the cliffs it looked like there were several ways to go up. Unfortunately, due to the unexpected delay caused by the FS Road bushwack, we did not have the time to examine the cliff face in great detail, other than to say it looked like most of what we saw was Class 2 with possibly some very short sections of Class 3. We circled right and went up an easy Class 2 ridge to the summit ridge. You must continue along the ridge-top for an additional .15 miles to reach the high point.
Views From AboveThe day that we climbed Kerr there was an inversion over much of the Flathead and Mission Valleys. There was not much to see from the top that day but if you look on the main page you will see the views are excellent! The first picture below has the white background above the tree-tops because of the inversion below us.
Camping & Red TapeKerr Mountain is located in the Flathead National Forest which is bear country. Don't hike alone, make noise at regular intervals along the trail, and carry bear spray and know how to use it.
The closest campground is West Shore State Park.
Bring water, as this is a dry route, and a map of the Flathead National Forest would also be helpful, available at local outdoor retailers.