Echo Peaks' eastern aspect as viewed from Hilgard basin.
Echo peak is a spectacular and prominent peak in the Southern Madison Range of Southwest Montana. The views of the surrounding basins are some of the most photogenic I have yet to see. Echo Peak lies within the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem and is home to abundant wildlife including Grizzly bears, and at least two wolf packs (descendants of those re-introduced into Yellowstone Park.)
Several route options are available once in the Hilgard basin. The most common being the North ridge. This is the one I'm describing below. There is also an East ridge approach which I'm not familiar with. The longest couloir on the East face was skied in a mid 1980's descent by the talented Doug Coombs and Emily Gladstone. This couloir drops for about 1000 feet from the summit, before running out towards thunderbolt lake drainage.
The steep moraine used to access the final climb.
To access this peak, the most common approach if from Sentinel Creek Trailhead. At which point, the easiest ascent is via the north ridge which is a class 2 climb.
By Car: From 287 just North of quake lake, turn north onto Beaver Creek Road (Forest Service Road #985) then drive approximately 4 miles to Potamogeton Park. This is also the terminus of Beaver Creek Road. As you reach Potamogeton Park, the Sentinel Creek Trailhead will be off to your left (West.)
On Foot from TH: Travel for about 7 miles on this well trodden and maintained trail to a marked trail junction just east of Expedition Pass. The trail has no turnoffs before this point so getting lost is not an issue, unless early season snow obscures the path. From the junction, a sign gives you the option of traveling either right, towards Expedition Pass, or left down into Hilgard Basin. Hang a left and descend into the basin. From here, negotiate easy high alpine/sub-alpine terrain while working your way towards the peak which is easily visible. Your goal is the vertical stripe of snow with water draining off it. It may just be a steep draw later in the season but still probably flows. Gain access to the tarn directly above this stripe and traverse a steep moraine around the south side of the tarn. Use the saddle just above and to the west south-west of this tarn for access to the north ridge. Once on the ridge, climb fun and easy class 2 terrain south to the level summit. There is a USGS benchmark here but no log. From TH to summit it's about 11 miles and can be achieved as a long day hike for the fit individual.
Red Tape & General Backcountry Rules
A view of Hilgard from the summit.
Carry bear spray and know how to use. Moose kill more people in Montana than Grizzly Bears so always keep a respectful distance from all wildlife as timid as the critter may seem. Travel lightly in fragile alpine environments and in groups travel in single file. Keep dogs away from mountain goats. Mine has been gored before. Utilize "Leave No Trace" outdoor ethics, I even dismantle fire rings after putting them out. Say hello to any other travellers, and of course, whenever possible live in the moment!
Several camping areas exist around quake lake if you wish to pay for a designated spot. Or there are a handful of dispersed camp sites along the Beaver Creek FSR road. Mostly off to the left if you are driving north.
I'm not familiar with any external links. I would highly recommend the book "Peaks Of Greater Yellowstone, A Mountaineering History and Guide."
by Thomas Turiano. This book is my spring and summer bible.