OverviewWerner Peak Lookout is perched at 6960' at the top of Werner Peak...located at the southern end of the Stillwater State Forest. The Stillwater State Forest, at 93,000 acres is the largest state forest in Montana and is contained within the Flathead National Forest. The Whitefish Range is located to the west of Glacier National Park. The rugged beauty and isolation of the Whitefish Range is most often overlooked by visitors to the area as they are intent upon gawking at the mountains of Glacier as they drive over Going-To-The-Sun Road. As a local, I have no problem with that.
The lookout has commanding views of the Whitefish Range to the north, south, and east. Further to the east the higher peaks of Glacier National Park can also be seen. To the west, the Salish Mountains, another of Northwest Montana's rugged and beautiful mountain ranges, rises gently from the Flathead Valley floor.
The Werner Peak Lookout is available to rent during non-peak fire months of the spring and fall.
Getting ThereGetting there is an exercise in patience as you must travel over many miles of unpaved, rocky roads.
But, to begin, drive 18.5 miles north of Whitefish on Highway 93. Turn right on the access road to Upper Whitefish Lake (Upper Whitefish Rd) which is almost directly across the highway from the Olney turnoff located between mile markers 145 and 146.
Drive up the main dirt and rock-filled road for 8.84 miles and then turn right onto Lower Whitefish Road. Drive 2.29 miles and then take the left fork which is FS Road #1658 (Werner Road). Drive up #1658 for 5.75 miles and park in the pullout below the green gate...or just follow the signs. I suggest having good tires on these roads. The parking area is pictured below.
Route InformationIf you're just "day-hiking" to the lookout you'll have a very short walk up the road...if you're renting and have the combination for the lock at the gate you can drive all the way up. You could make the "hike" a little more interesting if you choose to ascend the ridge to the right of the road and proceed to the lookout from there. A bit of history greets you at the parking area...pictured below.
A nice view of the lookout as you top out on the road. While the lookout was locked up, you can tell just by the outside and by looking at the rental website that this is not rustic..it is NICE!
Instead of going back down the road we decided to descend the ridge...pictured below...back to the parking area.
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Camping and RedTapeWerner Peak 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 Werner Peak, the Whitefish Range is chock-full of healthy-sized black bears and the occasional grizzly.
A map of the Flathead National Forest is helpful. Bug repellent is an absolute necessity in Montana in June, July and August. There is no water available on this hike.
The closest official campground is at Werner Peak Lookout.