This less-traveled trail has 360-degree views

48˚ NORTH DESTINATIONS BY GREG LINDSTROM
These mountains can talk. Standing at the summit of the 7,406-foot Sixmile Peak, I inhale until my lungs are full. Letting out my loudest YEE-HAW, the surrounding Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex echoes my call.

The Bob, which celebrates its 50th year as a designated wilderness this year, lies to the east in the shadow of Sixmile Peak. To the south, views show the vast Mission Mountain Range and valley. Turning west from the peak offers a look down to Swan Lake, Flathead Lake and the entire Flathead Valley. Looking north, hikers can follow the Swan Crest and, on a clear day, see peaks in Glacier.

The 360-degree view is the destination, but the entire journey to the summit is rewarding. The trailhead is only a 40-minute drive from Kalispell, but rarely sees heavy use. Hikers can find plenty of huckleberries along the trail in the early fall and can enjoy an array of colorful foliage as the season progresses.

Don’t forget your map so you can name the many peaks visible from the summit. Holler out their names, loud and clear, and they just may echo your call.


Directions: Take Highway 83 south toward the town of Swan Lake. Just before the town, near mile marker 73, turn east onto road 9508. The trailhead is on the left side of the road, approximately four miles up.

Trail: Approximately 4.6 miles each way; 3,400 feet elevation gain.