There is not always time to go for a hike for several days. Then you have to choose a great day trip destination where the most beautiful scenery can be examined in a few hours of hiking.
The Swan Range in western Montana peaks to around 8,000 to 9,000 feet (2,400 to 2,700 m). To the east, there is the Bob Marshall Wilderness, and to the west, there is the Swan Valley.
There are lakes and rivers in the valleys of the Swan Range that provide rewarding fishing for bull trout and cutthroat trout.
This is a challenging destination for a day trip. It is sweaty but well worth the effort! This trip rewards you with stunning views.
So one Saturday morning in June I drove the 100 miles to the Seeley Lake for a hike in the new trail for me.
Richmond Peak is a ridge to the north and east of Seeley Lake. There is a viewpoint below it. It has an awesome view of the mountain ridge that rises from the canyon. Sunday Mountain is towering the surroundings.
From the Richmond Peak vantage point, the face of the peak seems to rise right up from the valley beneath. I’m not that experienced hiker that I would comfortably go on a trail on that kind of mountain face.
But that morning in July, I hit the trail up across the canyon. I had seen that trail on my previous hike
It was going to be a cloudy, but quite warm day. Climb up would be a bit cooler even on a sunny day as the sun stays behind the ridge.
This was also a perfect area for grizzly bears with dense brushes to hide – no better place for them to hang around. It was a relief to finally get past the area, with no bear in sight, and no need to test how effective my bear spray might have been.
Out into the open, the trail was still on the lower sides of the mountain. The trail took it turns before the sheerer upward climb. More turns, it leveled a little, then a beautiful field with countless flowers in all the colors. It was great – walking through fields of flowers.
The trail led across a couple of avalanche draws, requiring struggling with the rock gardens.
After two hours of pushing the steep path, with heart beating faster and faster, I was walking through a meadow with a group of mountain sheep. This mountain meadow was below one of the peak cliffs.
Still half an hour to go, but then, the top ridge was there. But that was not all, there was still another half an hour for the final triumph, to get to the summit.
Views around the wilderness area, in all directions, were magnificent. And you might see eagles circling around looking for their meal.
From the summit, you can see other routes for the wilderness area. Even though the climb was, well, a steep climb, it didn’t take that long to make it.
It was yet a challenging hike that would lead to a host of pains and aches on the next day.
If you are traveling from elsewhere, there are loads of quality motels with soft beds, jacuzzis, and hot showers to soften the tired legs.
Lodgings can be found in the Seeley, Swan Valley, or the southern end in the Missoula area.
Overall the hike was pretty much what I thought it was going to be. Long climbs and the occasional rocky parts.
This hike leaves you breathless as you climb to the summit. It was great as the terrain and its views were constantly changing. We really have great hikes in Montana.
It does though remind me that I need to get in better shape. So I need to get back to the gym and running, I think.
There were no problems on the hike, except my sunglasses fell off while climbing over rocky parts.