Kalispell Rock is a mid-elevation peak located in the Selkirk Mountains of eastern Washington state, near the Idaho border. Although several very old trails are found on several ridges and slopes, and the region is generally popular for recreational activities, the peak itself sees few visitors and only a miniscule amount of those people actually climb to the top of the true summit. Most visitors to the peak are hunters and people wanting to see the old summit lookout site.
The peak has several trails and roads which, although old and no longer maintained, are still very straightforward to hike. Several sections of these trails and roads are overgrown but the intended routes can still be found with relative ease.
The "Rock" part of the peak name (Kalispell Rock) is likely in reference to the true summit, which is a massive boulder outcrop. However, unlike the rest of the peak, the true summit requires some Class 3 scrambling to reach.
At The Base Of Kalispell "Rock"
During 1927, the United States Forest Service constructed a tiny lookout building atop the true summit. The building had a wooden post held in place with concrete, and a firefinder device was on top of the post. The USFS also built a log cabin to be used only as living quarters, at the base of the boulder outcrop. The lookout was only used for several years, before ultimately other nearby "live-in" lookout towers became more popular during the 1930s. The firefinder and lookout building have long since been destroyed. The log cabin, which has a collapsed roof, is one of the few remnants of the peak's history as a former lookout location.
Posthole From Former Firefinder Atop True Summit
Remnants Of Former Living Quarters Cabin
Interesting Cabin Side-Story
Inside of the cabin remains is a log wall section with carvings by Pete VanGelder. Mr. VanGelder had lived near Priest Lake for many years, and his favorite annual deer hunting area was at Kalispell Rock. He visited the cabin living quarters every year from 1948 until 1985; he passed away soon after his final visit. For every year he visited the cabin, Mr. VanGelder carved that specific year into the wall; there is a carving for each year from 1948 through 1985. Although defacing property is never encouraged or recommended, it is still an interesting piece of local history. This story was recited by Ray Kresek, a friend of Mr. VanGelder.
Some Of Pete VanGelder's Carvings
The quickest and easiest way to drive to the peak is from Idaho Highway 57 near Priest Lake and the town of Nordman.
STARTING FROM NORDMAN, IDAHO:
1) Drive approximately 2.6 miles south. Turn right (west) onto Kalispell Creek Road.
2) After 2.3 miles, the road is bermed and the main road now turns right (north). There will be a sign stating "Petit Lake - 9 Miles" or something similar.
3) After 1.8 miles, a well-graded road (possibly unmarked/unsigned) appears on the left while FR-1362 continues north. Turn left at this junction.
4) Continue driving along the well-graded road for approximately 6.7 miles, until reaching a triangular-shaped road junction at a saddle.
5) From the saddle, there is an option to start hiking or to continue driving to the other side of the peak. If continuing driving further, turn left (west) at the saddle junction onto FR-308/FR-1934.
6)Drive west along FR-308/FR-1934 for 2.6 miles, until seeing an old road (gated) on the left (south).
7) Park near the intersection, making certain not to block the gate or vehicular traffic.
Standard RoutesROUTE OPTION #1: Hike Kalispell Rock Trail #370 (From East)
1) At the triangular-shaped saddle junction mentioned above, park the vehicle alongside the road.
2) Walk south of the junction approximately 200'-300' distance, until finding an old abandoned road/road-trail on the west side of the main road. This was the old trailhead (3885') for Kalispell Rock Trail #370.
3) Hike westward along Kalispell Rock Trail #370 for 2.5 miles, until reaching a trail junction (4960') where the ridge bends south. This is the trail junction for Kalispell Rock-North Baldy Trail #103, a trail which heads south from the junction nearly six miles further to North Baldy but which also briefly heads southeast from the junction towards Kalispell Creek.
4) At this trail junction, look for the a path veering west-northwest to start heading up the ridge to the north. This path leads to the summit ridge of Kalispell Rock and might even be considered a part of the old Kalispell Rock Trail.
5) After 0.2 miles, the trail joins the northern ridgetop (5160'). Turn right (east) to continue on a trail leading to the summit area. This trail has some fallen logs and branches over it but is still straightforward to distinguish and traverse.
Summit Ridge Trail
6) After 0.2 miles, the summit ridge trail leads to the log cabin (and beyond). Once at the log cabin, being scrambling up the massive boulder outcrop to the true summit.
ROUTE OPTION #2: Road & Abandoned Trails (From West)
1) From the road entrance gate, begin hiking up the forest road.
Gated Forest Road
2) After a few minutes, look for a large semi-open brushy slope located at the lower west ridge of the peak. Either choose:
-> PLAN A
: Bushwhack directly up the west ridge, and if staying near the ridgeline eventually encounter an old path. The path used to go all the way down to the road but the lower-half is very overgrown and hard to find in many sections. However, the upper-half of the path becomes more distinguishable. After approximately 0.75 miles, the path joins the summit ridge trail mentioned earlier. Then it is only another 0.2 miles to the summit area.
Overgrown Lower-Half Of West Ridge Path...
-> PLAN B
: Continue following the forest road for approximately 1.5 miles, until the road is at or near it highest point (~4600'-4700') along the west slopes of the south ridge of Kalispell Rock. Ascend 200'-300' to the ridgetop, finding a trail following the ridgeline. This is the Kalispell Rock-North Baldy Trail #103. Follow the Kalispell Rock-North Baldy Trail #103 northward for 0.75 miles, until reaching the Trail #103/Trail #370 junction mentioned in the "Option #1" route description. Use the "Option #1" description for the remaining parts of the ascent.
: Create a hiking loop that combines "PLAN A" and "PLAN B" together. If doing this, it is recommended to do the "PLAN B" approach for the ascent and "PLAN A" approach for the descent; this is because the "PLAN A" approach along the west ridge is much easier to follow heading down the peak than heading up the peak.
Hiking Kalispell Rock-North Baldy Trail #103...
ROUTE OPTION #3: Hike Kalispell Rock-North Baldy Trail #103 (From South)
1) From the summit (6173') of North Baldy, hike down the summit road for several minutes until at approximately 5960' elevation.
2) Look for a trail heading northward and downhill. After a few minutes and at approximately 5800' elevation, this trail joins another trail heading north. This is the Kalispell Rock-North Baldy Trail #103, a seldom-used and often overlooked hiking option.
3) Hike the Kalispell Rock-North Baldy Trail #103 for approximately 5.8 miles, until reaching the Trail #103/Trail #370 junction mentioned in the "Option #1" route description.
4) Use the "Option #1" description for the remaining parts of the ascent.
This peak is part of a designated bear protection region.
Take standard bear protection and consideration.
Only non-motorized access is allowed on Kalispell Rock.
No permits or fees are required to visit Kalispell Rock.
USGS Summit Benchmark Disk
When to Climb
Kalispell Rock and the surrounding area is typically accessible from late May through late October.
Backcountry camping is possible.
No Longer Living Quarters But Still Nice
Petit Lake has primitive campgrounds and campsites, as well.