Snowshoe Peak stands as the highest point in the Cabinet Mountains of northwestern Montana and northern Idaho. From its summit, a sea of jagged alpine peaks, steep-sided glacial cirques, and the sparkling high lakes of the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness are visible. Its north side holds the only named glacier remaining in the Cabinets -- Blackwell Glacier. This is not a crowded place. Among the many mountain ranges of the Rockies, the Cabinets are relatively unknown and far from major cities.
While not the easiest route, the fourth class Northeast Ridge is the standard route on Snowshoe Peak because of its short approach from Leigh Lake. Those seeking an easier, but longer route can approach from the west, which rates third class. The loose sedimentary rock this range is composed of necessitates treading with great caution and careful testing of holds.
Take US Highway 2 south for 7 miles from Libby, Montana and turn right on paved Bear Creek Road. Follow this road for 3 miles to a right turn onto gravel Cherry Creek Road 867. Continue for 4 miles until you reach a junction with Leigh Creek Road 4786. Turn right and proceed 2 final miles on rough road to the trailhead for Leigh Lake Trail 132.
No permits are required for backcountry camping, parking at the trailhead, or day hiking. Apart from standard wilderness regulations, there are no special rules or restrictions for this peak.
When To Climb
June through September are the best months to attempt this peak. Expect lingering seasonal snow on the mountain until August and some permanent snow year-round; prepare accordingly. A winter ascent would be complicated by long approaches on closed forest roads, fierce weather, corniced ridges, and high avalanche danger.
Good campsites are available at the northeast end of Leigh Lake. You must camp at least 300 feet away from the water. Be aware that a small population of grizzlies live in these mountains.