Granite County Highpoint Trip Report

Warren Peak

Dates: July and August 2001
Author: Daniel Fleischmann


You can reach the Pintler Range and Warren Peak by traveling down I-90 toward Missoula until you get to Route 1. Then take Route 1 to Route 38 (a.k.a. - Skalkaho Pass). Take Route 38 for 9 miles until you get to Moose Lake Road. Take a left on Moose Lake Road (a dirt road) and drive 16 miles to the end of the road, where you will find the trailheads. After parking, you take the trailhead to the left (back towards the road), which leads to a long gradual trail that goes up 1,000 feet to Edith Lake or Johnson Lake.

Most people hike 6 miles to Edith Lake and camp there for the night.


I climbed Warren Peak twice, once in late July 2001 and then guided somebody up to the top about two weeks later in early August. The first trip was perfect weather, the second we got caught right in the middle of a lightning storm and had to wait it out -- at the summit!

At the end of Moose Lake Road are a bunch of trails. One trail goes on past the road, another goes back parallel to the road and there is a registry box. These are primarily horse trails that go to lakes. Two major lakes can be reached via these trails, Johnson Lake (which I have been to once) and Edith Lake. They are both about 6 miles from the trailhead. Both times I climbed Warren Peak, I hiked to Edith Lake. The trail to Edith Lake is about 1000 feet of total elevation gain, with no more than 50 feet gain in the first 2 1/2 miles.

At the top of the first big hill, about 2 1/2 miles in, is a nice place to stop and take in a first great view of the area. This is on the right side of the trail at the top of the hill. About 3 miles in, there is a left turn to Edith Lake. If you kept going, you would hit Johnson Lake. The Edith Lake trail is pretty direct. The Edith Lake trail is steep at spots, and climbs about 900 feet in 3 miles. The upper portions of the trail have many viewing spots of the surrounding mountains. It is a truly magnificent and beautiful scenic part of the hike.

As soon as we got to the lake from the trail, we found that the best way to get to Warren Peak would be to take a left, walk about 100 feet, and then take another left and go UP. There is no trail. That is why I love this mountain so much. You navigate and find your own way up. It is a true test for a mountain climber and there is nothing more enjoyable than you and a friend finding your way up a mountain together. It was also cool because I climbed this mountain with a different person the second time. Both times, before we scurried along, we obviously took a little break upon reaching Edith Lake but after a short while we were back on our way. After all, we had just been hiking for almost 2 hours. As we started up the mountain, we climbed up through forest for only 10 minutes or so on dirt. The rest of the way we were walking up big boulders, even though there were some trees around. The lake got smaller and smaller until it was nonexistent. The trees were smaller and less dense until we finally got up high and could see the entire Pintler Range, as well as the Bitterroots, 50 miles away, with some of them in Idaho.

We got to a point where we were under the false summit, so we traversed, which can be tricky with the big boulders but it is really, really FUN! It takes a while to traverse, maybe 15 minutes or more, but we finally got to the other side and the saddle to Warren Peak, which was finally in view after nearly 8 miles of hiking from the original trailhead. The last bit is straight up to the summit, 1800 feet of class 2 rocks and boulders. The summit is easy to determine, and a USGS marker can be found.

The first time we summited, skies were clear. It had taken us about 4 1/2 hours, with about 20 minutes of break at Edith Lake. The second time, upon reaching the summit, individual rain clouds poured and thundered onto surrounding peaks. Lightning came within yards of us at the summit as we waited out the storm for twenty minutes.

The trip down that second time was very hard because the rocks were slippery. We bushwhacked our way through the forest to get back down. I think if you want to get down, you need to go back closer to the way you come up. Otherwise, you end up in no-mans land, where it is tricky to find a direct route back. We ended up climbing over fallen trees and negotiating endless different routes before our descent was successful. The first time, when we returned to the lake, my hiking partner cooled off in the lake.

Seventeen miles of hiking, without camping, is how I climbed Warren Peak both times. I've got the legs for that kind of pounding but, rest assured, Warren Peak is 2 day trip for most people. However, it is a hike that many hikers can do. The only prerequisite is a confident sense of direction.