Tobacco Root Mountains

Page Type Page Type: Area/Range
Location Lat/Lon: 45.55610°N / 112.03°W
Activities Activities: Hiking, Scrambling, Skiing
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Elevation: 10604 ft / 3232 m
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Tobacco Root Mountains, Montana

The Tobacco Roots are located in southwest Montana, about 45 miles west of Bozeman, north of the Gravelly Range and west of the Madison and Bridger Ranges. They are located between the Madison and Jefferson rivers. The Tobacco Roots are approximately 26 miles long (north to south) and 18 miles wide. There are numerous high peaks (43 are over 10,000 ft) in this range, with many access roads nearly all the way around and also contains some trails that are open for motorized use. This poses some multi-use controversies in the area, so keep that in mind when planning out a hike or pack trip. The highest peak in the Tobacco Roots is Hollowtop Mountain at 10,604 ft.

The Tobacco Roots generally hold snow at least until early July and are usually accessible until late September or so (without a 4wd), but this will obviously depend on the year. Popular areas accessed from the east end of the range are: Hollow Top and Albro Lakes, Curly Lake, Louise Lake, and Lost Cabin Lake. Each of these trails offer some peak-scrambling opportunities to get off the traveled way, and offer dramatic panorama views throughout the range with picturesque lakes and lush vegetated valleys.

A large portion of the 'Roots are within the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest management. This range has numerous old gold mine claims and prospect sites primarily on the east and west ends, especially near the towns of Twin Bridges and Sheridan, which were most active from the 1880's until the 1930's. There is some ambiguity regarding both the origin of the name "Tobacco Roots" and also the date when this name was first used on geographic maps and atlases. Starting in Hayden's Sixth 'Annual Report' (1873) these mountains have also been referred to as the "South Boulder Range" and then later the "Jefferson Range."

Lost Cabin Lake
Tobacco Root Mountains
Middle Mountain
Louise Lake
Middle MountainMiddle Mountain, 10,353 ft.
Hollowtop MountainBackside of Hollowtop Mountain, 10,604 ft. (middle)

For some additional pictures (panoramas), click here.

Highest Named Peaks over 10,000'

Here is a table that shows the top highest-elevation named peaks in the Tobacco Roots:

Rank Peak or Summit Name Elevation (ft) Elevation (m) Latitude Longitude
1 Hollowtop Mountain 10604 ft 3232 m 45.611662° -112.008274°
2 Granite Peak 10580 ft 3225 m 45.565546° -112.042496°
3 Mount Jefferson 10513 ft 3204 m 45.602778° -112.005833°
4 Branham Peaks 10453 ft 3186 m 45.556390° -111.991390°
5 Lakeshore Mountain 10451 ft 3185 m 45.595264° -112.109969°
6 Mount Jackson 10424 ft 3177 m 45.590771° -112.102823°
7 Spuhler Peak 10410 ft 3173 m 45.570256° -112.083723°
8 Lonesome Peak 10401 ft 3170 m 45.549916° -112.017794°
9 APA Mountain 10400 ft 3170 m 45.592491° -112.121426°
10 Noble Peak 10396 ft 3169 m 45.564223° -112.060529°
11 Thompson Peak 10386 ft 3166 m 45.529322° -112.021635°
12 Mount Bradley 10367 ft 3160 m 45.520279° -111.975858°
13 Middle Mountain 10353 ft 3156 m 45.587272° -112.051822°
14 Little Granite Peak 10318 ft 3145 m 45.574020° -112.033088°
15 Lady of the Lake Peak 10218 ft 3114 m 45.515180° -111.968139°
16 Leggat Mountain 10216 ft 3114 m 45.512404° -112.013803°
17 Sunrise Peak 10195 ft 3107 m 45.574491° -112.093750°
18 Ward Peak 10195 ft 3107 m 45.485728° -111.917863°
19 Ramshorn Mountain 10195 ft 3107 m 45.466505° -111.945049°
20 Long Mountain 10178 ft 3102 m 45.543113° -112.014362°
21 Horse Mountain 10168 ft 3099 m 45.592756° -112.005827°
22 Cloudrest Peak 10154 ft 3095 m 45.546051° -112.072357°
23 Potosi Peak 10128 ft 3087 m 45.587749° -111.981763°
24 South Baldy Mountain 10105 ft 3080 m 45.471110° -111.914720°
25 Belle Point 10084 ft 3074 m 45.490552° -111.955669°
26 Porphyry Mountain 10081 ft 3073 m 45.474718° -111.942127°

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Getting There

There are several access points to the Tobacco Roots on nearly all sides of the range. One of the more popular access roads leads close to the middle of the range and to several good trailheads. From I-90, take the exit for Cardwell (should be exit 256), and head south on the rough highway. At about mile marker 6.4, take a right turn on South Boulder Road. This road will eventually lead towards the heart of the Tobacco Roots, past the tiny town of Mammoth. Stay on this road for approximately 14.5 miles. There is a fork at this point, be sure to take the right spur road towards Curly Lake trailhead, and drive another 1.7 miles or so.

From another split in the road you have several options. If you keep straight (right spur) the road will become a 4wd / high clearance road shorty and will eventually lead to a trail heading to Brannan Lakes, and also towards Lakeshore Mountain. If you take a left at this fork it will lead to another trailhead. This trailhead leads up to Louise Lake (and Middle Mountain), or you can take the lower trail which will dump to Lost Cabin Lake.

For additional topographic maps showing more detail for this range, click here.

Google Earth
Topo Map

Red Tape

The Tobacco Roots are located in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. Several areas in the Tobacco roots are closed until July 16th for mountain goat kidding. Call the local Beaverhead-Deerlodge Forest office at 406-287-3223 for more info. As with most mountain ranges in this region, black bears and occasionally grizzlies are seen in the Tobacco Roots. Therefore, bear-spray should be carried and proper technique in using the spray and just as importantly, learning how to travel appropriately in bear country are essential here.

External Links

Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest:

"Hiking Montana" Falcon Guide by Bill Schneider and Russ Schneider, 25th ed.

"Montana Singletrack" Beartooth Publishing, 1st ed.

USGS Topographic Quadrangles available in TIFF format can be downloaded via the Montana State Natural Resource Information System here.

USGS Topo Quads (along with other good literature or advice) can also be acquried in hard-copy form from several places in Bozeman including:
Barrel Mountaineering, 240 East Main Street, (406)582-1335
Northern Lights Trading Co., 1716 W. Babock, 1-(866)586-2225
USFS Bozeman District Office, 3710 Fallon St., Suite C, (406)522-2520


There are several good campsites south of the town of Mammoth, these can also be busy during the weekends. There are numerous options for camping near many of the lakes, Louise Lake is extremely popular with families, but is only 3.5 miles from the trailhead, with not much elevation gain to the lake.


This page is a work in progress... If you have pictures or any additional info you would like to include for the Tobacco Roots please add them to this page. Thank you...

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

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bruceg - Aug 5, 2009 7:59 pm - Hasn't voted

Climbers Guide to Montana

A book written by Pat Caffrey (1986) lists 1150 mountains in Montana. Some information on the Tobacco Root Mountains. Some routes have little information, but it is a great place to start. The book appears to be out of print.

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Children refers to the set of objects that logically fall under a given object. For example, the Aconcagua mountain page is a child of the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits.' The Aconcagua mountain itself has many routes, photos, and trip reports as children.