As you travel west on Hwy 2 between Kalispell and Libby, Montana the mountains look the same but the names of the ranges do change from the Salish Mountains
east of the Thompson River to the Cabinet Mountains
west of the river.
Bowers Peak is probably the second Cabinet summit you would see to the south of the highway as you drive, but you would have to look carefully. It is actually easier to see Middle Thompson Lake and know that Bowers Peak is located directly on the south side of the lake as evidenced by the picture below.
Now, when I look at this picture, I can hear the scoffers out there laughing...4445' and it looks like a piece of cake!! There are probably many ways to climb this mountain (inter-laced with logging roads as are other Plum Creek properties, but I am yet to find a map that accurately depicts the amount of, or the beginning and ending of these logging roads) we chose, more-or-less, a direct frontal assault. In no way, do the pictures on this page, convey the actual STEEPNESS
of this mountain or the amount of DEADFALL
that had to be overcome to reach the summit. Elevation gain of approximately 1109' over 1.54 miles one-way. I would subtract approximately .25 miles from the one-way mileage due to aimless wandering on logging roads hoping for a better way up. You will notice throughout the page that I've used "hike/climb" several times...we found in many instances the necessity to use our hands to gain elevation...definitely not just a hike!
Small campground parking area Begin on the logging road to the right
Drive approximately 44 miles west of Kalispell on Hwy 2. You will pass Lower Thompson Lake and then Logan State Park at Middle Thompson Lake. Turn left on ACM Road South (or 9991 on the KNF Map). This road is paved part of the way and then turns to gravel. Drive approximately 1.73 miles to the third un-marked logging road on the right. Almost directly across from the road is a small 2-space campground located on the south side of Middle Thompson Lake. We pulled in there and parked as there were no campers present, however, there is also enough room to pull off the road and park by the logging road itself. You can begin the hike/climb here.
Go right at this stump Middle Thompson Lake from low on the mountain
Hike .10 miles up the logging road to a large stump on the right side of the road. Beyond this stump on the right is a clear-cut area that will take you up to the first logging road. Save yourself some pain and anguish and take the right. We continued on the road which eventually petered out on a hillside and we had to bushwhack up the steep hillside to the first road. We paused for a brief rest on this logging road and took a picture of Middle Thompson Lake.
Looking back at dense vegetation band Looking up at the terrain up the ridge
We meandered for a bit in both directions on this logging road looking for a clear way up and through a dense band of trees but never found one. We finally decided to walk to the right/west to get closer to a more open northwest ridge going up the mountain and chose to just bust through the dense band of trees above the road to gain the more open area on the side of the ridge. Climb up to the crest of the ridge and look for a game trail that will make your upward progress somewhat easier.
Upward terrain after second logging road Looking back down route after second logging road
Continue up the ridge and after gaining approximately 607' (total) over approximately .83 miles we popped out onto a second logging road. Again we meandered a bit looking for a good way up and decided to walk left/east on the road very briefly before going up.
Where we went up from third logging road Another view up from third logging road
Climb another approximately 168' over .26 miles up the steep hillside to a third and final logging road. We walked left/east for .13 miles and decided on a way up.
Actual summit from the false summit Opening through trees just right of center is clear route to the summit
Climb/hike to the false summit and then look to the right for a clear way through the trees to the actual summit. The actual summit was tree-covered with no views, but there was a small beautiful meadow just to the south. Views were much better from the false summit. Elevation gain from the third logging road to the actual summit was 334' over .32 miles.
False Summit Views
Camping and RedTape
Bowers Peak is located in the Kootenai National Forest
which is bear country
. Make noise as you hike, don't hike alone, carry bear spray and know how to use it!
You can get water at the lake but we carried our own. Hiking poles were EXTREMELY beneficial on this mountain! A KNF map is helpful in finding your way to the mountain.
The closest NAMED campground is Logan State Park
on the north side of Middle Thompson Lake in the Thompson Chain of Lakes. The closest campground is the small 2-space one on the south side of Middle Thompson Lake directly across the road from the beginning of the hike/climb.
The picture below was taken from the third logging road.