Montana Outdoors

August 19, 2010

Cube Iron (1)

A place called “Cube Iron”

On my first visit to Cabin Lake in the Cube Iron – Silcox roadless area I thought this might be a region I would come to love, and after my second visit, to Mt Headley which is about four miles to the north of Cabin Lake, I was really quite taken by it. Last week when I made the trek to Cube Iron Mountain which is a few miles to the south of Cabin Lake I was really in love.

This is the first post of a series that I will do about the Cube Iron Mountain area and I will post the photos in sequence along the trail hoping to show the country as you would also see it as you travelled on the trail. In a few more days I will make another trip into that roadless area, this time to Goat Lakes and Mt Silcox at the very southern end of the roadless area and I understand the scenery there is also very beautiful. (And I hope the name “Goat Lakes” is significant!)

The route that I chose to access Cube Iron began at the same place (Four Lakes Trail Head) as the trail to Cabin Lake, only this trail (USFS Trail 460) heads to the south rather than the north from the trail head. It is a very pleasant trail and in very good condition. The Forest Service trail crews have put a huge amount of time and effort making it that way. (Thanks guys!) From the trail head at about 4,770 feet elevation to the top of Cube Iron at 7,170 feet it is about three miles through a beautiful section of forest with a small stream and lush vegetation.

Griz Country

Scene on USFS Trail 460

Scene on USFS Trail 460


Scene on USFS Trail 460

Scene on USFS Trail 460

Scene on USFS Trail 460

One-leaved FoamflowersOne-Leaved Foamflowers



  1. Wow, what a place to hike!

    But bears. Have You ever met them when hiking? I Should be afraid when passing there.

    When we visited in Yosemite many years ago and hiked there, we were very afraid of pumas. Those flowers are so sweet. Mother Nature is Master to create things.


    Comment by sartenada — August 19, 2010 @ 11:33 pm

    • I have not spent a lot of time yet in good Grizzly habitat and have not run into one. I frequently see black bears although only one so far this summer. I do carry a heavy pistol but more as a precaution for mountain lions than bears.

      It’s comforting to me to find wildflowers of some kind everywhere I travel.


      Comment by montucky — August 20, 2010 @ 8:45 pm

  2. I see you are getting your hikes in before the snow comes back. How soon will it start in the high mountains?

    Be careful up there! Do you see many bears? We have only black bear here, and I have never heard of them bothering anyone, except maybe to mess up camps trying to get food.

    Thanks for answering my flower question!!


    Comment by sandy — August 20, 2010 @ 5:03 am

    • There was some snow forecast for some areas around Glacier last week but I haven’t hear if they received any. We usually get our first snow in September then often it will return to warm weather for a month or so of “Indian summer”.

      Despite the signs, I’ve seen very little bear activity in this particular roadless area. I’ve seen a lot of bear droppings and signs of activity in other areas but have only run across one this year. Usually black bears are not a problem, but I did have an altercation with one about ten years ago and fortunately I was armed at the time.


      Comment by montucky — August 20, 2010 @ 8:50 pm

  3. Wait for me! I know those hiking boots are around here somewhere…


    Comment by Pinhole — August 20, 2010 @ 8:38 am

  4. For better or for worse I take it you didn’t see a bear.


    Comment by scienceguy288 — August 20, 2010 @ 9:07 am

    • Not so far. I love to see them though. We usually have one or two visit our apple trees at the house in the fall.


      Comment by montucky — August 20, 2010 @ 8:52 pm

  5. You 1st caught my attention w/ the grizzly bear talk then the BLUE BLUE skies! WoW! I imagine it IS a place to fall in love w/… it’s Montana for GOD’s sake! LoL!

    I’d love to go on a virtual trek through these mountains & trails – I’m ready!


    Comment by Tricia — August 20, 2010 @ 9:23 am

    • This area and Sundance Ridge (the one adjacent to it) have become favorites. The country is beautiful, the trails are outstanding, and I hardly ever see another person there. Most of the trails are old pack trails that were used to supply the lookouts, and the sites of those lookouts were chosen because of the visibility from them. Can’t beat the combination!


      Comment by montucky — August 20, 2010 @ 8:57 pm

  6. Enjoying your hikes, Terry. Thank you for taking us with you. Just gorgeous country. How difficult are these hikes?


    Comment by Scott Thomas Photography — August 20, 2010 @ 10:54 am

    • Thanks Scott. For someone in reasonable physical condition, most of the hikes are not difficult. Because of my age now I have to concentrate on staying in condition, but that’s good for me anyway. Most of the hikes I have been on this summer have been 6 to 8 miles round trip, with elevation climbs of 1,500 to 2,500 feet. Most of the trails are quite good, but maybe not everyone would agree with that analysis, and I do have my own perspective, having hiked these mountains for over 60 years.


      Comment by montucky — August 20, 2010 @ 9:02 pm

  7. We had foam flowers in upstate New York. I haven’t seen one in Michigan yet. It is another one of the flowers I miss. Grizzly bears would most certainly freak me out…


    Comment by kateri — August 21, 2010 @ 10:10 am

    • I hadn’t seen Foam Flowers either before last year.

      There are actually few grizzlies outside the parks and they are pretty shy and not seen all that often. You can’t forget that you may encounter one though.


      Comment by montucky — August 21, 2010 @ 8:59 pm

  8. Rugged, natural and beautiful country. What a wonderful area to hike!


    Comment by Anna — August 21, 2010 @ 1:48 pm

    • It is all of that, Anna. The area in which I live has lots of country like this and it is relatively unknown; therefore it doesn’t attract very many people and it can be seen in its natural state.


      Comment by montucky — August 21, 2010 @ 9:02 pm

  9. Wow – amazing – and if I dare to venture to bear country I will now know how to distinguish which bear tracks I come across!! ;o)


    Comment by Stacey Dawn — August 21, 2010 @ 2:47 pm

    • The prints on the sign are a little misleading. Griz tracks are unmistakable because of their size, assuming is an adult bear, and the claw length is so much longer than the black bear’s..


      Comment by montucky — August 21, 2010 @ 9:05 pm

  10. It’s hard to keep finding mere words to describe the photos you take of these stunning wildlands. I’d be a little worried about running into a bear, too. Which is worse to come across…a grizzly or black bear?


    Comment by Candace — August 21, 2010 @ 4:22 pm

    • There is so much scenery here…

      Grizzly, by far. They are not always good tempered. Black bears are usually fun to encounter. Only twice have I had problems with one.


      Comment by montucky — August 21, 2010 @ 9:07 pm

  11. easy to see why you fell in love!


    Comment by silken — August 26, 2010 @ 8:07 pm

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