As evidenced from the photographs below, Carney Peak is something that we had been eyeing for some time. Carney, and it's striking summit dome, though several hundred feet lower than the nearest neighboring peaks in the southern portion of the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness
grabbed our attention, as we summitted various Cabinet peaks to the east and southeast over the past two years.
Topping out at just 7173', Carney is not a high mountain by anyone's standards, but as most of you know, judging the difficulty of climbing a mountain by height alone, well, is just foolish. Carney Peak has a little bit of everything. Steep, slick, beargrass, talus, scree, and cliffs are all things we encountered on this mountain. After wondering about this peak for almost two full climbing seasons, it did not disappoint.
Tremendous views of the neighboring peaks in the southern Cabinet Mountains
Wilderness, and the southern Cabinet Mountains
in general, are your reward for the arduous effort expended in ascending Carney Peak. These views include, to the SW, Goat Peak, to the west, Engle Peak, to the NW, Flat Top Mountain, Lost Horse Mountain, and more to the north, Elephant Peak and Twin Peaks.
Enroute to Carney you will pass several other minor peaks of the Cabinets located along Hwy 2, in order, from Kalispell: Bowers Peak
, Wapiti Mountain
, Fosseum Mountain
, Kenelty Mountain
, Jumbo Peak
, and Barren Peak
VIEWS OF CARNEY
[img:821067:alignleft:small:Ample parking][img:821066:alignright:small:TH Sign]From Kalispell drive west on Hwy 2 for 63.3 miles and then turn left on FS Road #231. Drive for 6 miles on #231 and then turn left on FS Road #2332. Drive for .36 miles on #2332 and then turn left on FS Road #6748. Drive for 1.7 miles on #6748 to the end of the road and the parking area, where there is ample parking for several vehicles. You will actually pass the TH on the right just before the parking area.
There are probably several ways to climb Carney. The NW ridge from Flat Top Mountain is probably feasible, but this would be an extremely long day, or even an overnighter. It also may be possible to hike all the way to Lost Buck Pass and find a way up through the cliffs on the SW ridge.
The original plan was to try and get up onto the NE ridge (pictured above) and summit from there, but as we hiked along the trail, this option never really presented itself, due to vegetation that was thicker than expected. We finally cleared the trees and had a clear shot up the east face, so we took it.
|Terrain||One-Way Mileage||Elevation Gain|
|Trail #656||4.05||2073'||Bushwhack to Summit||.41||1223'||Total||4.46||3296'|
|[img:821085:aligncenter:medium:Engle Peak 7583' to the west]|
|[img:821086:aligncenter:medium:Zoom of Engle Peak]|
|[img:821089:aligncenter:medium:View NW:Flat Top Mt., Lost Horse Mt., Elephant Peak, & Twin Peaks]|
|[img:821087:aligncenter:medium:Zoom of Flat Top Mountain 7608']|
|[img:821088:aligncenter:medium:Zoom of Lost Horse Mountain 7508']|
|[img:821090:aligncenter:medium:Zoom of Elephant Peak 7938']|
|[img:821091:aligncenter:medium:Zoom of Twin Peaks 7563']|
|[img:821095:aligncenter:medium:View SW...Goat Peak 6889']|
Camping and RedTape
Carney 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 did not see bear sign on this hike, but the Cabinets are chock full of healthy-sized black bears and the occasional grizzly.
There is lots of water available on this hike. A map of the Kootenai National Forest and the Libby 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 campground is Lake Creek Campground