Montana Outdoors

June 22, 2007

Sacajawea Peak trail

Sacajawea Peak, elevation 6,619 ft., sits at the Southeast corner of the Cherry Peak roadless area in the Coeur d’Alene Mountains in Western Montana. The Cherry Peak area has been closed to motorized vehicles for a long time, but the great guardian of our wild country, the U.S. Forest Service, now has plans to open all of it to snowmobile use and to open two of the ten creeks whose headwaters are in the area to new logging ventures, thus destroying the wilderness characteristics of the entire 35 square mile area. Utilizing the same damned poor logging techniques now being used just East of this area, in a year or so there will be a myriad of new road scars and bare mountainsides in this area which is now covered with lush forest and one more piece of wilderness will be gone forever. The Wilderness Bill, HR 1975, is designed to protect areas like this. It is now in committee in the House of Representatives.

My hike to Sacajawea Peak began here at the start of F.S. trail 385 at an elevation of 5,000 ft. (What the sign doesn’t mention is that trail 398 begins after about 7 to 8 miles of tough hiking.)

Sacajawea Peak trailhead

Half a mile and nearly a thousand feet higher up the trail is a rest spot. Apparently a few years ago one of the guys who cleared the trail also had a sense of humor.

Rest stop

The beargrass blossoms are exceptionally large in this area for some reason.

Common beargrass blossom

Common beargrass blossom

This is what the trail looks like winding up through an old-growth forest. (If you choose to go to Flickr and view this photo in its original size, it will give you a glimpse of what a tremendous feeling it is to hike here. Just click on the photo and that will take you to Flickr. Then click on “all sizes” just above the photo. Select “Original size”.)

Trail 385 to Sacajawea Peak

In heavily wooded areas like this it isn’t always easy to see out of the trees, It usually takes a major feature in the terrain to make the long views available. At 5,900 feet I found a large outcrop and a cliff about 300 feet high that looked out toward the North and East, making these views available. (That’s the edge of the cliff in the immediate foreground.)

Scene from Sacajawea Peak area

Clark Fork Valley

The valley floor is 3,500 feet below.

Clark Fork Valley

The peak is another couple of miles and 700 feet farther up. The next post will include photos from its top.

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