OverviewWhitefish Mountain suffers from, or should I say, revels in having a split personality. Perhaps, it is due to the dual summits, and the differing topography of each. According to the topo map, the western summit at 7417' is only one foot higher than the eastern summit at 7416', however, on the date we summitted both, my gps registered a 31' difference.
The western summit is broad and flat and tree-covered and the actual high-point is somewhat difficult to discern. The amount of trees interferes with what would be some fantastic views. The western summit does require some minor scrambling to reach the summit ridge.
The eastern summit is smaller, rocky and tree-less with expansive views in all directions, including the following peaks....Mount Young, Red Benchmark, Lake Mountain, Nasukoin Mountain, Link Mountain and Krinklehorn Peak. The high-point is easy to discern and the scrambling from the saddle between the two is quite fun and can be as exposed as you want it to be.
What a fantastic surprise! What was expected to be an easy walk-up turned into two separate sections of scrambling, the second with an extreme amount of exposure if you stay near the top of the ridge.
Whitefish Mountain is not to be confused with Whitefish Mountain Resort or Big Mountain, as some of us locals still call it.
Whitefish Mountain is located well to the north of the city of Whitefish, in the central part of the Whitefish Range, and is much more isolated, rugged, and seldom-visited, as far as we could tell, with no cairns on either summit.
But, to begin, drive 18.5 miles north of Whitefish on Highway 93. Turn right on the access road to Upper Whitefish Lake 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 almost 19 miles until you come to a large turnout on the left and signs indicating Link Lake Rd # 589. Turn left on Link Lake Rd and follow it for approximately 1.5 miles until you see the parking area.
Two-wheel drive, low clearance vehicles were parked at the trailhead the day we were there but I would certainly recommend a high clearance vehicle for these roads. This can be a busy trailhead, as the trail to Link, Lake and Nasukoin Mountains and Link Lake begin across the road.
|Terrain||One-Way Mileage||Elevation Gain|
|Trail #26||1.73||838'||Ascent to western summit||.91||542'||Descent to saddle||.34||-191'||Ascent to eastern summit||.09||160'||Total||3.07||1540'|
Camping and RedTapeWhitefish 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 Whitefish Mountain, the Whitefish Range is chock full of healthy-sized black bears and grizzlies.
There is no water available on this hike. 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 Red Meadow Lake Campground.