Totem Peak sits as the highest point on the massive West to East Ridge that divides Bear Creek Canyon and Fred Burr Creek Canyon. At 8521 ft., it is not as tall as its Northern neighbor Sky Pilot
, or its Southern neighbor Castle Crag
, . It is however a worthy peak that offers excellent climbing on solid granite.
Totem Peak is as its name implies a conical shaped peak with 3 major ridge lines E., W., and N.. The East ridge is over 6 miles long and over 7000 feet of elevation along its entire length, with many points over 7500 ft.. The W., and N., ridges are shorter, [@1.5mi. each]as is the case with most of the major Bitterroot drainages. Below its summit sit Totem Peak Lake, North Totem Lake, and South Bear Lake, none of which have trails to them, but all have cutthroat trout. From the summit you can look due South to Fred Burr Lake, which is along a good pack trail loop connecting Fred Burr Creek, and Mill Creek, one major drainage to the South. Fred Burr Creek is the major access drainage to Totem Peak, however the adventurous could reach its summit from the South Fork of Bear Creek via the N. Ridge.
Fred Burr Reservoir Trail Head: From Hwy 93 S. turn W. at Tucker Crossing [3mi. S.of Victor Mt.] on FS. road 4800 for 2.5 mi.. Then turn S. on FS. road 4810 for 1.25 mi.. Then W. on FS. road 4820 for 1.75 mi to FS. trailhead.
See Also: Fred Burr Trailhead
Bear Creek Trailhead: From Hwy 93 S. turn W. at Tucker Crossing [3 mi S. of Victor Mt.] on FS. Road4800 for 2.5 mi.. Then turn N. on FS. road 4810 for.75 mi.. Then W. on FS. road 4830 for 2.8 mi. to well signed trail head.
There are no permits required to camp or travel in this area.
The Fred Burr reservoir is not in the Selway Bitterroot Wilderness area, however this trail is restricted to non-motorized uses. The Wilderness boundary is @ .75 mi. W. of Fred Burr reservoir.
Please respect private property boundaries along the lower section of the trail.
There are camping sites at the Fred Burr Reservoir, however these sites will be flooded during full pool events [spring/early summer]. Past the reservoir to the West are more remote areas that offer better camping along the creek.
External LinksWinter Avalanche Conditions
Bitterroot National Forest
Current Weather Conditions
Follow a signed trail for .75 mi., then proceed W. up the Fred Burr Reservoir maintenance road for 4.5 mi to the reservoir. Go past the reservoir, on a good trail, 3.5 mi to a point at @5700 ft elevation where you cross the creek and head up to a deep gash on the S. side of Totem Peak.
To descend, scramble along class 3 and class 4 terrain of E. Ridge to the col, mentioned next.
Alternately you can gain the E. Ridge at a col, by heading N. at @ 5600 ft. elevation approximatly 1 mi past Fred Burr Reservoir. Then scramble on class 3 and class 4 terrain due W. to the peak. Reverse route to descend.
Or... from Bear Creek Trailhead, hike 2.5 mi. to S. Fork of Bear Creek trail, at @ 4.5 mi. from S. Fork junction, look for a major drainage from the S.. Bushwack up to the unnamed lake at the head of this creek, where you can gain the N. ridge. Reverse route to descend, or leave a shuttle car at Fred Burr Trailhead, and use standard descent route. I have not climbed the N. Ridge route so I will only speculate that you can expect difficult bushwacking from the trail to the lake, and 4th to 5th class climbing on the ridge.
The Bitterroot have been extremely susceptible to wild fire during the hot summer months, so please use extreme caution with campfires, or better yet use a stove.
The area above Fred Burr reservoir is seldom used, and the trail can be blocked by avalanche debris for several hundred feet! Expect downed timber as there is little trail maintanence on these upper trails.
Keep an eye on the weather, plan to be down off the ridge by early afternoon, as lightning storms are frequent during the summer months.
The Primary Image is by BSIHLER
, Thanks so much for the use Bob!