2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on

Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – July/August 2013

Hidden Montana: Cabinet Mountains

If the scenic, scrappy Cabinets had buffed trails and sat near urban centers, they'd be as busy as New Hampshire's Whites or Colorado's Indian Peaks. Thankfully they have neither, and that makes them perfect for motivated trekkers who don't mind huffy climbs, and off-trail routefinding, like the route we found.

by: Steve Howe


Northern Cabinets Thru-Hike
The secret Explore a new route across one of America’s most beautiful—and overlooked—ranges.

Our Scouts recently hiked
this 31-mile point-to-point to test it as a leg of the proposed 1,500-mile Inland Northwest Trail. Their advice? Pack extra supplies on this three- to five-day trip to account for rugged terrain, routefinding, and the inevitable urge to drift into long, daydreamy naps among the paradise of peaks. Start by hiking up Trail 141 to Cedar Lake. At .8 mile, continue onto the Scenery Mountain Trail (383) across the ridges of Scenery and Grambauer Mountains, climbing 3,900 feet before descending to Upper Cedar Lake (mile 9.4). Camp on the shelf beneath the banded walls of Dome Mountain’s north face. In the morning, cross North Parmenter Pass on Trail 139, then drop 2,200 feet in 2 miles to a junction with Minor Lake Trail (317). Head south from Minor Lake, climbing 3.3 miles over the Parmenter Creek Cutoff to Sky Lakes, a verdant zone of moss-covered and thickly forested slopes. For an on-trail loop, pick up Trail 360 2 miles north of Sky Lakes and follow it 6.3 miles to Upper Cedar Lake. The off-trail point-to-point climbs south from Sky Lake to the saddle between points 7,434 and 7,701. Summit point 7,701, then hike 4 ridgeline miles along Pine Ridge, where pocket meadows make for scenic camping. At the saddle above the headwaters of Contact Creek, drop southwest down talus, meadow, and pine forest to intersect Trail 972 where Verdun Creek joins the North Fork Bull River (1.8 miles southwest of Wishbone Lake). Head downcanyon 4.5 miles to the trailhead. Shuttle 37 miles southwest of Libby; 48.202825, -115.813408 Trailhead 7 miles northeast of Libby; 48.409662, -115.663977 map USFS Cabinet Mountains Wilderness ($12) Contact Kootenai NF; (406) 827-3533;

Snowshoe Peak
The secret Pick a sneak route up the region’s tallest summit.

If the northern cabinets
thru-hike (above) sounds like more than you have time or ambition for, score some of the same great scenery—plus a fun peak scramble—on this overnight. (Got plenty of time and ambition? Tack this trip onto the thru-hike.) Start from the Trail 972 trailhead in Libby and hike 4.2 miles. Head off-trail along the North Fork Bull River and make camp near the shore of Snowshoe Lake (mile 5.8). Get going as morning alpenglow paints the eastern face of 8,736-foot Snowshoe Peak and pick your line up a class 2-3 talus slope 1.3 miles to the top. Mountaineers with ropes and climbing gear might prefer the zestier, airier, and more exposed class 3-4 route up the northeast ridge. For that option, head in from the Lehigh Lake trailhead; at the lake’s northernmost inlet, aim for the saddle on the northeast ridge.Trailhead Same as left Map USGS quad Snowshoe Peak, MT ($8) Contact Same as above

Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Address 1:
Address 2:
Email (req):

Reader Rating: -


Your rating:
Your Name:


My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

Posted On: Sep 01, 2014
Submitted By: CajunHiker
Trailhead Register
New random photo thread.
Posted On: Sep 01, 2014
Submitted By: Echo
View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions