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St. Clair Peak

St. Clair Peak

St. Clair Peak

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: Montana, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 48.93019°N / 114.89807°W

Object Title: St. Clair Peak

County: Lincoln

Activities: Hiking

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall

Elevation: 7267 ft / 2215 m


Page By: rebelgrizz

Created/Edited: Oct 10, 2011 / Nov 10, 2011

Object ID: 753056

Hits: 1252 

Page Score: 84.27%  - 18 Votes 

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Located just south of the Canadian border in NW Montana's Whitefish Range lies the Ten Lakes Scenic Area. This remote hiking/backpacking area offers 89 miles of trails within it's 15,700 acres. There are many alpine lakes, several named peaks, and several other un-named points that provide the hiker/climber with many destinations from which to choose. One of these, St. Clair Peak, sits prominently above the Therriault Lakes and is one of the first and most striking geological features that one will see as they drive up to either of the Therriault Lakes' campgrounds.

We had anticipated some possible scrambling on the route up this peak, but instead, the route up the ridge turned into nothing more than an easy Class 2 bushwhack. The stupendous views in every direction, however, more than made up for the lack of scrambling.

Getting There

Drive 43 miles north of Whitefish on Hwy 93 and turn right on Grave Creek Rd. Grave Creek Road is paved and two lanes for the first 3 miles and then is paved and one lane with pullouts for the next 7 miles. Follow the signs to Therriault Lakes. Total distance from Hwy 93 is 28.6 miles. After the first 10 miles it is a mixture of gravel with a couple of paved sections. It is a fairly decent road for the most part and 2WD passenger cars are able to travel on it. At approximately 27.8 miles take the right to Little Therriault Lake and drive for another approximately .8 miles and turn left into the parking area. There are only about 4 spaces for day use at the Little Therriault Lake Campground and the KNF has had two of them filled with piles of gravel for 2 years...my point-get there early.

Route Information

St. Clair Peak
Little Therriault Lake from the Highline Trail
St. Clair Peak
Highline Trail
From the campground take the Little Therriault Lake Loop Trail #85 around the right side of the lake for just over a half mile until it intersects the Little Therriault Lake/Highline Trail #341. Ascend this trail for just over 1 mile gaining approximately 800' in elevation. Almost half of the entire elevation gain on the hike is on this trail. This trail intersects the Highline Trail #339. Turn right and traverse beneath the cliffs of St. Clair Peak for about a mile.

St. Clair Peak
Leave the trail here
St. Clair Peak
Semi-open forest bushwhack low on the ridge

The trail eventually curves to the left around the north ridge of St. Clair and then heads west. The trail steepens here for a short period and after ascending the greatest part of this steepness, begin looking for a clear way to the left to begin your bushwhack up the ridge of St. Clair.

St. Clair Peak
Summit through the trees
St. Clair Peak
Cliffs on the east face

We expected a much more open ridge, but the trees and vegetation actually crowded all the way over to the ridge for much of the bushwhack, making it difficult to hike along the edge and virtually eliminating any views for most of the way. This portion of the hike was just over three quarters of a mile.

St. Clair Peak
Looking toward the summit
St. Clair Peak
Actual summit from the SW

As you near the summit the trees do thin some along the edge of the ridge allowing for better views of the rest of the route up.

TerrainOne-Way MileageElevation Gain
Trail #85.6280'
Trail #3411.04800'
Trail #3391.22200'


Summit Views

Camping and RedTape

St. Clair Peak 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. Although we saw no bear sign specifically on St. Clair Peak, the Whitefish Range is chock full of healthy-sized black bears and grizzlies.

Bear Stuff

There is water available on this hike. A map of the Kootenai National Forest is helpful in negotiating the many Forest Service Roads. Bug repellent is an absolute necessity in Montana in June, July and August.

The closest campground is at Little Therriault Lake.

Parting Shot