Montana Outdoors

September 29, 2010

Mt Silcox (4)

When it seems that the trail can go no farther upwards and you expect to see the top of Mt Silcox you find that the trail instead has flattened out and follows a high and very narrow ridge leading to the south: the top of the Mountain is still a half mile away. It’s a strange feeling to walk the trail, knowing that you must be at the top and yet it goes on and on, looking for all the world like a trail much lower in elevation.

Trail 478 Mt SilcoxTrail 478 as it approaches the ridge leading to the top of Mt Silcox.

Trail 478 Mt SilcoxHigh ridge trail

Trail 478 Mt SilcoxHigh ridge trail

Trail 478 Mt SilcoxHigh ridge trail

Mt SilcoxFinally, a peek over the top

Mt SilcoxThe view to the south overlooking the town of Thompson Falls.

Old lookout base Mt SilcoxThe base of the old lookout tower.

A log cabin was built on this site in 1908 which was replaced in 1923 by a 35′ steel windmill tower. In 1926 a cupola cabin was erected on the concrete base shown in the last photo. It was destroyed in 1967.

(To be continued…)


  1. Could there be a more beautiful place. Love photo #5 and that lone puffy cloud. What a view it must have. 🙂


    Comment by Robin — September 30, 2010 @ 5:13 am

    • There are many such mountains in western Montana. I have been choosing the ones that were the sites of lookouts back in the 30’s. They have pretty good trails to them and were chosen for their views.


      Comment by montucky — September 30, 2010 @ 11:15 am

  2. To use an over-worked word… Awesome! Did you pack a tent and sleeping bag and coffee pot? I’d want to hang out up there o’nite and see the sunrise!


    Comment by Cedar — September 30, 2010 @ 6:44 am

    • This was a one-day trip although I spent a night at the trail head. I don’t often spend the night on these trips mostly because these have been exploratory ones. I hope to return to several of these places with a full pack and an extra day. Most of the time when I reach the top I wish I had a sleeping bag with me though! Imagine what it must have been like for the person manning that lookout all summer.


      Comment by montucky — September 30, 2010 @ 11:16 am

  3. Terry:

    I always feel a bit blue when I think of all the fire lookouts that have been demolished or are no longer in use. If I were emperor of ice cream, I’d rebuild or restore those old lookouts and then man them. Think of the wonderful summer jobs that could had!



    Comment by Chad — September 30, 2010 @ 7:35 am

    • I feel the same thing, Chad. Of the 639 lookouts that were in Montana, only a hand full remain staffed and a few more where the cabins remain. We sure lost a lot of history and romance when they were destroyed.

      I would still like to see the cost numbers comparing the cost of staffing the lookouts versus flying the monitoring aircraft. I would contend that the expense is still there, but the money goes into the pockets of the few, not the many, and part of the soul of the west is lost.


      Comment by montucky — September 30, 2010 @ 11:21 am

  4. Did a family live in that cabin? What a view they had to wake up to every morning!!! WoW!


    Comment by Tricia — September 30, 2010 @ 9:39 am

    • Probably not a family. Just someone performing the fire lookout function. That peak would be covered with 20 feet of snow in the winter and the trail would have been impassable. Someone did spend his summers there for quite a few years though.


      Comment by montucky — September 30, 2010 @ 11:23 am

  5. Hi Montucky, Wonderful looking hike. I like that picture you took with the puff ball cloud right in the center of the frame. Have a super-good day!


    Comment by wildlifewatcher — September 30, 2010 @ 9:56 am

    • There were so many great scenes and I can post only a few. I brought back 117 photos from that trip. I hope your day is a good one too!


      Comment by montucky — September 30, 2010 @ 11:25 am

  6. Beautiful scenes and rugged for trails. I really like the 5th photo, peek over the top with that puffy cloud in the distance. What a place to be able to spend some time! I would love to wake up to a sunrise there and see the stars at night.


    Comment by Anna Surface — September 30, 2010 @ 2:09 pm

    • After reading yours and Cedar’s comments I will have to consider taking a sleeping bag on some of these peak hikes. Not the one tomorrow though. I don’t know if I’ll make it this year or not, but I do plan on spending two days on a hike to Marmot peak, a few miles past Headley. That’s spectacular country.


      Comment by montucky — September 30, 2010 @ 7:50 pm

  7. I’ve been fooled by “false summits” more than once. The view is worth the additional walk here in your photo, though.



    Comment by knightofswords — September 30, 2010 @ 6:38 pm

    • So have I, Malcolm, sometimes several times on one climb. On this one though I got some elevations from GPS and knew I was about as high as I would go, just sideways about half a mile.


      Comment by montucky — September 30, 2010 @ 7:51 pm

  8. Wow, gorgeous photos. Second and the third photo from the top are like from my country. I would like to hike there.


    Comment by sartenada — September 30, 2010 @ 10:59 pm

    • I wish you could hike here, Sartenada! I’m sure you would enjoy it and take back many photos!


      Comment by montucky — October 1, 2010 @ 8:18 pm

  9. Like the others, that lone cloud caught my eye! What a treat it would be to see those mountains every day.


    Comment by sandy — October 1, 2010 @ 3:09 pm

    • I’m thankful every day for these mountains, sandy. It’s a special treat when I can get into the high country and see them from there. I will miss that in the winter.


      Comment by montucky — October 1, 2010 @ 8:19 pm

  10. Me, too, re: the one puffy cloud in the center. All are gorgeous, though.


    Comment by Candace — October 2, 2010 @ 6:24 pm

    • That was a lucky cloud: it had the whole sky to itself.


      Comment by montucky — October 2, 2010 @ 9:16 pm

  11. I love that lone cloud, too…
    It really is sad that so many of the look out towers have been demolished. Manning one would have the coolest summer job ever.


    Comment by kateri — October 9, 2010 @ 4:04 am

    • There are still a few being manned. One is not far from here and I visited there twice this summer. One of the nicest men you would ever meet was on it and he has been there every summer for many years.

      In 1965 a law was passed by Congress that paved the way for any fool who managed to hurt himself in the forest to file a claim against the government for damages. Right away, the Washington Office of the Forest Service issued an order that most rangers interpreted to mean “Seek and destroy any cabin that isn’t being manned”. Within a year, a thousand lookout cabins were destroyed. I consider that a historical tragedy as well as a monument to bureaucratic stupidity.


      Comment by montucky — October 9, 2010 @ 9:32 am

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