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Summit Mountain: not exactly a creative name for a peak.
It is obviously associated with the Marias Pass summit which is crossed by the intercontinental railroad as well as a national highway.
This is not an easy mountain to climb and therefore would be more challenging than many of Glacier's other peaks. Plan on a long day with plenty of challenged muscles on the ride home.
Summit Mountain is part of a trio of mountains that are seen while driving across Marias Pass. To the southwest of Summit is Little Dog Mountain (8,610 feet) and to the northeast is Calf Robe Mountain (7,948 feet).
Other neighbors to Summit Mountain include Elk Mountain and Red Crow Mountain
At 8,770 feet in elevation, Summit rises a little over 3,500 feet above Marias Pass and is approximately 5.0 miles in climbing distance.
Perhaps the Blackfeet name for Summit Mountain is much more fitting. They called it Mokakekin which translated means “Backbone.” The Blackfeet believed this area was the backbone of the world.
This Google Earth Image certainly illustrates how these mountains look like a backbone, with a case of scoliosis, and seems to support the valleys on either side and this ridge dominates the views along the Continental Divide.
It is from Summit Mountain and her neighbor Little Dog that the Continental Divide begins its march through Glacier National Park.
For more information on Marias Pass see A History of Glacier’s Passes: Part I.
From the summit of Summit Mountain views into the Great Bear Wilderness to the west and the Flathead Range to the southwest are above average on a clear day. Looking to the northwest as well the eye is easily led to see Mount St. Nicholas beyond Brave Dog Mountain beyond the Ole Creek Drainage. To the north the peaks along the Continental Divide lead towards Two Medicine area. There are so many peaks to be seen that it is difficult to accurately identify them. The plains of central Montana dominate the view to the northeast and east. On a clear day the Sweet Grass Hills beyond Cut Bank, Montana can be seen. Portions of the Bob Marshall Wilderness are also easily seen to the south.
Summit Mountain is located in the Clark Range of Southern Glacier National Park. It lies on the Continental Divide and is the second peak north of Marias Pass on U.S. Highway 2 between East and West Glacier, Montana. It lies approximately 1.5 miles from the highway and is easily seen as it abruptly rises from the Marias Pass area.
Trail access is located at Marias Pass. The Autumn Creek Trailhead begins there and continues to East Glacier, Montana.
The trailhead is located across the highway from public parking lot at Marias Pass. Park near the Oblisque and statue of John Stevens and walk across the highway onto BNSF property. See this Trailhead Location photo for more help locating the trailhead.
The trail skirts through the pine and aspen groves while giving occasional glimpses up onto the incredible peaks along the Continental Divide as well as views into the plains of central Montana.
The nearest airport is located in Kalispell. The area is also serviced by Amtrak in Whitefish. Main highways into the Flathead Valley are Highways 2 and 93. The Flathead Valley is approximately 120 miles North of Missoula, Montana and Interstate 90.
Refer to Red Tape for all of GNP rules and regulations.
To visit Glacier National Park is to enter a place where Heaven touches Earth affording brief glimpses into the Wonders of Creation.
Vehicle single entry fee for Glacier National Park is $25.00 for 7 Days, $12.00 per person for single hiker, motor biker or bicyclist.
An "America The Beautiful Federal Lands Recreational Pass" goes for $80.00 which gives entrance to all National Parks, National Forests, BLM, U.S. Fish & Wildlife, and Bureau of Reclamation sites for one year from date of purchase. See Plan Your Visit for other information regarding all of the National Park entrance fee information.
If you are planning on visiting Waterton Park make sure you have a passport.
You do not have to register for day climbs in Glacier National Park but it is recommended. Backcountry travel regulations can be found at Backcountry Travel. There is also information from the Park Service on Mountain Climbing in Glacier.
It would be possible to climb at any time of the year as access to this mountain is clearly available throughout the year due to its proximity to U.S. Highway 2. The highway is plowed year-round and the trailhead is easily reached from the plowed out parking area on the southern side of the highway.
Ideal times to climb are May to October. Climbers will experience a higher degree of challenge earlier and later in the season. Obviously additional gear is needed for climbs that are not done in the “normal” climbing season.
In the fall the Autumn Creek Trail would be an awesome place to come and listen to the elk bugle while they are in the “rut” or breeding season.
Routes up Summit Mountain are no more than Class 3 or 4 with good route finding.
The initial portion of the route is the same as Little Dog Mountain. Both peaks can be climbed from the saddle between the peaks.
A basic route to the Summit Mountain is the Continental Divide Route.
Views into the Ole Creek drainage are impressive as are the Park Creek Drainages and the plains of central Montana.
Descend via the same route on the Ole Creek side, there are some class 4 cliffs on the Marias Pass side of the ridge.
J. Gordon Edwards also wrote that there is a goat trail that can be followed from Firebrand Pass to the top of Summit Mountain. There indeed is a goat trail that skirts below the northwest side of the ridge between Calf Robe and Summit Mountain. Some challenging route finding may occur on the final ascent to Summit Mountain.
Bring the normal equipment and the USGS Glacier National Park map is sufficient for this climb.
The USGS quad maps associated with this area are Blacktail and Marias Pass.
There may be little water on this route after leaving the valley floor.
This is bear country! Bring bear spray and know how to use it.
As with all hiking and climbing in Glacier National Park use caution and practice good manners with the wildlife. You are in bear country. Carry bear deterrent spray, don’t hike alone and make some noise. For more information please go to the Park's website for Bear Information. The U.S. Forest Service also has helpful information on Grizzly Bear Management.
Crucial gear includes: water, sturdy footwear and a camera.
Get a Glacier National Park map from a local sporting goods store.
Camping is available at the USFS Marias Pass campground.
There are also other options available throughout the park. The nearest GNP Campground is at Two Medicine Lake.