Koch Peak is a beautiful, rocky mountain peak located in a very isolated area in southwestern Montana. It is within Gallatin National Forest and is part of the Taylor Peaks (& is the highest of the Taylor Peaks) located in the Madison Mountain Range. This area has the highest concentration of Grizzley Bears in the lower (48) states. There is plenty of other wildlife as well. The beginning of the climb goes through densely forested areas with beautiful creeks and waterfalls. As you ascend up the mountain, it opens up, and becomes scree slopes.
Anyone attempting Koch Peak should bring USGS topo maps. The roads and trails are poorly marked and without the maps, we would have been lost.
You will need the following USGS maps:
Lincoln Mountain, Montana
Koch Peak, Montana
The total elevation gain starting from Taylor Fork parking is 3,993 feet. Allow approximately (3) to (5) hours for ascent time. Climbing along the southeast ridge is a class 2 climb.
From the west entrance of Yellowstone Park, take highway 191 north to Taylor Road (approximately 25 miles). Make a left hand turn onto Taylor Road (this is a gravel / rock road). Follow Taylor Road past Nine Quarter Circle Ranch on the left side. This ranch is identified easily by the airstrip along the road. Once past the ranch, you will pass a lone log cabin on the left. Approximately (1) mile past the log cabin, you cross a brige and come to a "y" in the road. Stay to left and follow the (4) wheel drive road for approximatley (4) miles along a beautiful sream bed. You should have a Jeep for this portion. At the end of the (4) wheel drive road, park your car and start the climb. The elevation at this point is approximately 8,000'. Here there is another small bridge which is private which you need to cross. We were told that we could use it, which enabled us to eliminate (1) stream crossing. After crossing the bridge, make your first right onto Taylor Trail #17(about 100 yards). You will find several old log cabins from trappers, possibly 150 years old. Follow this trail for approximately (4) miles to the base of the mountain. Be careful as we encountered (2) grizzly bears on (2) different occasions. Once you reach the base of the mountain, hike to the saddle to the southeast of the peak and then find your way up the scree slopes to the summit.
Permits, parking passes, etc. are not required to climb Koch Peak.
Go to links for additional information on Gallatin National Forest or try this web-site:
When To Climb
June, July, August, & September is the normal season for climbing in Southwestern Montana.
There are numerous campsites along the gravel road located between highway 191 and Koch Peak. Be extremely careful with grizzly bears. Remember that this area has the highest concentration of Grizzly Bears in the lower (48) states.
Grizzly Outfitters were very helpful and knowledgable about the mountain and conditions. They can reached at:
www.grizzlyoutfitters.com (or go to the links on this page)
Need Gear ?
If you are in need of climbing gear, there are (2) climbing shops located in Bozeman, Montana (about 1/2 hour north of the Taylor Road turn-off). I have posted links for both in the links section. They are Barrel Mountaineering and Northern Lights Trading Company. Both shops have an excelllent selection of gear as well as local knowledge.