OverviewStrawberry Lake is a popular, moderate day-hike in NW Montana's northern Swan Range. When you arrive at the lake, if you have the inclination to go higher, Strawberry Mountain presents itself as the obvious choice. For those of us with a little extra gumption and a penchant for bushwhacking, Strawberry's summit views prove to be well worth the extra effort expended to get there, even though Strawberry owns the distinction of being the "shortest" named peak in the range.
Strawberry is the next named summit north of the Swan Range's Jewel Basin Hiking Area. Alpine Trail #7 is the north/south trail that would take you into the Jewel Basin from Strawberry Lake, and even beyond, if you so choose.
After reaching the trail intersection with Alpine Trail #7 just before the lake, make a left and proceed to the north on Trail #7 for just under a half-mile. Your goal is to reach the crest in the trail between Strawberry and Point 6154 to the SW. There are probably other ways to ascend Strawberry, but they would've involved even more bushwhacking. When you reach the tree pictured below...make a right and begin the bushwhack up Strawberry's west ridge.
A brief, but intense, bushwhack upward through steep and dense huckleberry thickets is probably not the smartest thing to do in the fall of the year when bears are in their hyperphagic state, but to reach the summit via this route, it was necessary.
Once through the worst of the thickets, just continue upward through a couple of small, steep meadows. The only holds available in some places were tufts of grass or evergreen branches. Overall, about 1/4 of a mile gaining about 500' to the summit.
VIEWS OF THE SUMMIT
|Terrain||One-Way Mileage||Elevation Gain|
|Trail #5||3.39||1499'||Trail #7||.40||188'||Bushwhack to summit||.24||495'||Total||4.03||2182'|
Camping and RedTapeStrawberry Mountain is located in the Flathead 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 Strawberry Mountain, the Swan Range is chock full of healthy-sized black bears and grizzlies.
There is water available on this hike, bring a filter if you plan to use natural water sources. A map of the Flathead 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 Handkerchief Lake Campground, which is really not all that close, as it is located on the east side of the Swan Range on the west side of the Hungry Horse Reservoir AND was actually closed for 2011 due to road construction.