OverviewIf one is looking for a fall hike in NW Montana after the snow starts flying in the higher elevations, then Warex Peak, located in the Salish Mountains, easily fits the bill.
Warex's unique location, directly on the east side of Lake Koocanusa, provides the hiker with dramatic sweeping vistas of NW Montana's Purcells to the west and south. Back to the SE, one also has views of a portion of the Salish Mountains. Views to the north and east are mostly blocked by trees.
Hiking in along the ridge, colorful views of the south side of McGuire Mountain, the highest summit in the Salish Mountains, keep you company on the trail.
In the 1930's a 70' pole tower with an L-4 cab stood atop the summit of Warex. This, unfortunately, was destroyed some time in the early 1970's.
Route InformationHike along overgrown FS Road #7996 for 1.46 miles, gaining around 200', until reaching an obvious trail up and to the left of the road. I would not want to do this hike in the summer due to the overgrowth, bugs, etc. The pictures below were taken after some hard freezes.
There is a sign up above where you leave the road. When we found it, it was lying face down in the dirt. As mentioned, once on the trail on the ridge, up above the vegetation on the road, you're able to see McGuire Mountain to the north, pictured below.
Hike on Trail #277, on the north side of a long ridge, for about 2.6 miles, gaining a little over 500', until reaching the summit, pictured
|Terrain||One-Way Mileage||Elevation Gain|
|FS Road #7996||1.46||191'||Trail #277||2.62||514'||Total||4.08||705'|
Camping and RedTapeWarex 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. We didn't see any bear sign on this hike, but the Salish Mountains are chock full of healthy-sized black bears and the occasional grizzly.
There is no water available on this hike. A map of the Kootenai National Forest and the Rexford/Fortine Ranger District is helpful in negotiating the many Forest Service Roads. Bug repellent is an absolute necessity in Montana in June, July and sometimes August. No ticks were seen on this hike.
The closest official place to stay is the McGuire Mountain Lookout. However, some moose hunters had thrown down a tent right at the parking area.