by Fletcher McDonald

From Autumn, 2017:

From Seattle, we drove East, heading back across Washington, passing through Idaho’s panhandle and through Cour d’Alene, northeast through the Paradise Valley of Montana, where I spent the first six years of my life – and further, to Kalispell, Montana.

Kalispell is a booming town near the ski resort of Whitefish, south of Glacier National Park and north of Flathead lake. All three outdoor marvels make it a very attractive place to live and attracted it did some close relatives of mine some decades ago.

On the recommendation of my uncle Kevster, our first hike is Mount Aeneas, a mere thirty minutes from his home and only 7,528 feet high. We drive up dirt road to get there, single lane typical of Montana mountain road, hard brown dirt packed down into washboard and grit. Wildflowers wave at us idly as we pass by and the sheer drop from the edge of the road keeps us on our toes.

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Wildflowers as seen from the road.

The trailhead is packed – a good sign. I’m very wary of bears, but have brought neither a dog, a firearm, or bear spray. I hope I don’t get mauled and eaten by a rabid omnivore.

Spoiler alert! I wasn’t mauled and eaten by a bear. I know this seems improbable…

Mount Aeneas is a quality hike, a hidden gem in the wilderness of Western Montana. Locals know it, and frequent it – travelers don’t hear much about it, given the proximity to Glacier National Park and the plethora of many, much more accessible hikes.

It isn’t hard by any means, but definitely no walk in the park. There are steep trails, there is elevation gain, but despite that it is quite enjoyable. Taking a loop leads you across the ridge up to the summit and then down into a valley wherein small lakes are scattered.

Hike was 10/10, would do it again. 🙂

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I’m on top of the world! . . .because the world is flat. I’m JOKING.

 

More assorted photos from the hike around Mount Aeneas:

 

 

Useful References:

“Crown of the Continent.” Sacred Places for First Nations | Crown of the Continent, crownofthecontinent.natgeotourism.com/content/mount-aeneas-trail-717/cotb2fb212a36c48ade4.
“Montana Outdoors Magazine.” Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, fwp.mt.gov/mtoutdoors/HTML/articles/2010/hikingtrails.htm.
“Mt. Aeneas Trail #717.” Nebraska National Forests and Grasslands – Buffalo Gap National Grassland, www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/flathead/recreation/recarea/?recid=66426&actid=50.
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