Montana Outdoors

July 18, 2008

Penrose Peak, Part 9

As you look toward the northwest from Penrose, in the first photo, and a little more to the north in the second, you are looking out over nearly all of the 59 square miles of the Cherry Peak roadless area. It has long been managed as a roadless, non-motorized use area, home to abundant wildlife of many different species including the big game species of grizzly bears, black bears, cougars, bobcats, wolves, deer, elk, moose and bighorn sheep, (and very likely Canadian Lynx) and a wealth of smaller species including ptarmigan which is not endangered, but pretty darn scarce these days.

It’s an area of very secluded retreat for the occasional traveler on foot or horseback where the natural world can be viewed and enjoyed in approximately the condition it has been in for thousands of years.

In the proposed Lolo National Forest plan, it will all be opened for winter motorized use (snowmobiles), and the upper slopes of Cameron and Lynx Creeks (visible in the canyon area in the left center of the first photo) will be opened to regularly scheduled timber production (which would include road building and the further use of those roads for wheeled motorized travel). I have asked before and now ask again in concert with a large number of conservation groups… “why in the world would we want to do that“?

Cherry Peak roadless area

Cherry Peak

(These are my favorite two photos and they have made the whole trip well worthwhile for me. I will cherish them for a long, long time.)


  1. I don’t KNOW why we would want to do that. I have no clue why we need to destroy MORE land, haven’t we already ruined enough… I really don’t know.


    Comment by Bo — July 18, 2008 @ 8:31 pm

  2. I sure don’t know either, but I hope after Mark Rey leaves his post with the Forest Service after the end of the year that the direction of the Forest Service will change for the better. He has done his very best to leave no trees standing and no wild country not crisscrossed with roads.


    Comment by montucky — July 18, 2008 @ 8:48 pm

  3. Have you seen some of the photos of West Virginia lately? Instead of digging for coal “under” the mountains, they simply destroy them by leveling the mountains “top down!” I sincerely hope that the next administration will be far more eco-friendly than the current administration has been.

    But, looking at the snow pack in some of your recent entries, … and given the current high heat and humidity we are having, … oh! I wish I could just set myself down in that snow and cool off! 😀


    Comment by Janet Wilkins — July 19, 2008 @ 5:39 am

  4. Janet, there’s a pretty good website about mountaintop removal mining Learn about coal. There is a company that wants to do that kind of mining in British Columbia near the border of Glacier also. It’s absolutely devastating to the country!

    I hate to mention this, but on those high peaks when you sit down near the snowbanks there’s also a very cool breeze most of the time. Last week, on a day in the 90’s I hiked to a peak near here and once at the top had to put on a jacket while I ate my lunch.


    Comment by montucky — July 19, 2008 @ 7:59 am

  5. Greed and ignorance cause man to do many stupid and tragic things. The damage caused by one selfish person lingers on long after they have left their mortal coil. I wish to leave no such legacy behind me.

    I want also to mention the patterns I see in this post’s photographs. The view is stunning, and the lines fascinate me.

    Thank you thank you thank you for sharing this with us.


    Comment by Tabbie — July 19, 2008 @ 8:31 am

  6. Why should there be “easy access” to such magnificent places. It will only lead to their demise. Part of the greatest pleasure in nature is working hard to find it.


    Comment by scienceguy288 — July 19, 2008 @ 10:53 am

  7. breathtaking! is there somewhere you send in your photos w/ articles to help stop the kind of propositions you mention? You have quiet a selection of photos, extensive knowledge and a way with words.


    Comment by silken — July 19, 2008 @ 4:01 pm

  8. Tabbie,

    Like you, I do not want to leave that kind of legacy. Yes, the lines are fascinating! A geologist would have fun with those and they would probably tell him a lot too. I spend a lot of time thinking about that area.


    Comment by montucky — July 19, 2008 @ 4:30 pm

  9. Scienceguy,

    You’re sure right about the ease of access. I see it very dramatically. While there isn’t a lot of trash on the forest roads, there is some and a lot of vandalism of signs, etc. and damage caused by improper use of OHV’s. Once you get a mile or so away from a trailhead though, that all goes away. I think that speaks volumes!


    Comment by montucky — July 19, 2008 @ 4:32 pm

  10. Silken,

    I sincerely wish there were more that I could do to protect the roadless areas, and I keep looking for opportunities. There are a lot of very good conservation and environmental groups and I support most of them. It seems to me that the biggest problem there is that there are so many and they are so fragmented in their approaches.

    I am posting more photos on where interested folks can see a little of the various roadless areas, and have had photos on quite a few other sites as well. It’s difficult to figure out where I can do the most good.

    Perhaps the most difficult thing is reaching more new folks instead of “preaching to the choir”. Those who want to exploit the forests are well organized, wealthy and have bought a lot of political clout, even though they are by far in the minority, and the way things are going it seem like too much will be destroyed forever before the majority of folks realize the seriousness of the situation.


    Comment by montucky — July 19, 2008 @ 4:41 pm

  11. I have an amateur interest in geology too 😀 rocks rule!


    Comment by Tabbie — July 19, 2008 @ 5:36 pm

  12. I’m aware of, but not well versed in mountain uplifting, which I suspect took place in this particular area. I’ve puzzled over it quite a bit, trying to work out the physics of a step by step move of those mountains.


    Comment by montucky — July 19, 2008 @ 7:29 pm

  13. Yes, they are beautiful photographs indeed, of a very beautiful place! There will surely be a time, hopefully sooner rather than later, when humans will stop murdering beauty for some inane reasons…


    Comment by Sumedh — July 20, 2008 @ 6:43 am

  14. I sincerely hope there will be such a time, Sumedh! I’m very concerned for this country though, because the powerful logging and timber industry has bought control over the National Forests and their man (Mark Rey) has been in control of them since 2001 much to the detriment of all of the publicly owned land in these United States. It will take sweeping changes in the Department of Agriculture to even begin the healing process of our natural resources.


    Comment by montucky — July 20, 2008 @ 9:38 am

  15. […] summer, I plan to take trail 404 to the junction of trail 398 and follow it for another visit to PENROSE PEAK, which is visible in the distance in this photo. Until then, this high country will rest peacefully […]


    Pingback by Along 404 « Montana Outdoors — November 8, 2008 @ 9:27 pm

  16. Has anyone on here hiked the whole 50 mile CC Divide 404 Trail? Do you think beginner hikers accomplish the whole trail?


    Comment by Lorraine — March 27, 2015 @ 7:13 pm

    • I’ve hiked a lot of it over the years, but I haven’t heard much from anyone concentrating on hiking the whole thing. I have been interested in it, but I see from the new Lolo Forest map that they have opened it up to motorcycles now and I have no further interest in hiking it.


      Comment by montucky — March 27, 2015 @ 8:09 pm

  17. I see this is an older post, but does the gated road connect to a trail that leads to Penrose Peak? We are interested in hiking there next summer. Thanks!


    Comment by Lorraine — January 1, 2021 @ 6:04 pm

    • Hello Lorraine,
      That whole area was affected by the big Sheep Gap fire two years ago and so I don’t know much about the current situation up there. I did drive this summer on FS road 7581 to the gate and found it to appear rather normal that far. If you would stay on 7581 approx 5 miles past the gate it will intersect with FS trail 385 which is the trail that crosses over Penrose and then south westerly to Greenwood Hill and FS trail 404 (the CC Divide trail). I have no idea what that area is like now after the fire. Trail 385 can also be accessed from the southeast by FS trail 398 (the Dee Creek trail) that starts from the West Fork of Swamp Creek.
      I’ve been thinking that I might go there next summer myself but at the moment I have no idea what the trail conditions might be as a result of the fire. Your best bet right now would be to contact the ranger Station in Plains, and I’m sure they would have the latest information from their trail crews last summer. Their phone number is 406-826-3821. I would also highly recommend that while hiking anywhere in that area that you carry a copy of the Forest Service map of the Plains/Thompson Falls Ranger District of the Lolo National Forest. You can get a copy from the Ranger station or I think it can be ordered over the internet.

      Happy hiking!

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — January 1, 2021 @ 10:10 pm

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