Granite County Highpoint Trip Report

Warren Peak near Phillipsburg, MT (10,463 ft)

Date: July 7, 2007
Author: Jim Perkins

Between MM31 and MM32 on Highway 1 (which is 6 miles South of Phillipsburg), take Highway 38 - the Skalkaho (Salish for "Beaver") Highway - 8.7 miles west to Moose Lake Road (FR 5106). Stay on Moose Lake Road for 12.3 miles, past Moose Lake and the resort and, after crossing Carpp Creek, to the split for Trail 24 and Trail 28 and 29. Stay on FR 5106 (Trail 28 and 29) for another 2.7 miles to the Middle Fork/Trailhead #9 camping area. Park. The well-marked trail to Edith Lake and Johnson Lake is at the north end of the parking area.

For this particular adventure, I had just enjoyed two days boating and tubing at Georgetown Lake with our church Youth Group (15 kids and 8 adults -- awesome!) and decided to head over with my boat to the Warran Peak trailhead (Trailhead #9), spend the night Saturday and make the summit sometime early Sunday morning. However, this plan did not happen.

By the way, this may well be one of the few CoHP’s where a guy can actually drive a trailer all the way to the trailhead as the trail to Edith Lake is also used by horses.

I arrived at the Trailhead #9 around 5:30 pm, changed out of my trunks and watershoes and into my hiking garb, and started down the path toward Warran around 6pm. I took my tent along as I thought I would just spend the night out camping at the lake and then make an assault early the following morning. Daniel Fleischmann’s detailed write-up at proved very helpful. Daniel writes, "The trail to Edith Lake is about 1000 feet of total elevation gain, with no more than 50 feet gained in the first 2.5 miles." I found this very accurate. Then, at 2.5 miles, a lovely waterfall and then, at 3 miles, the split for Edith and Johnson Lakes. For Edith, stay to your left. Once you pass a humungous boulder field, one could continue another 0.5 to 0.75 mile or so to the Lake, which is one big horseshoeing u-turn.

Being on a time budget, I decided to take a chance and cut through this boulder field, aiming for the far southeast corner. "Boulder Field" here is used loosely to describe rock that’s mostly the size of beach ball. I then took a long, upward, spiraling traverse until I was at the approach - just above tree line to around 9,000 feet - to Warran’s southern face. From here, the climb is a lot of Class 2 up but I reached the top of Warran in about 3 hours and 25 minutes total. Just one problem: 10 pm is usually not the best time to be on the summit, although it did make for some unique peak photos: sunset vs sunrise. Ya think maybe there’s a reason more guys have sunrise pics!?

Being the abundantly blessed guy that I am, I did make it back down and through the loose, steep rock mix to around 9,000 feet before the lack of sunlight forced me into my headlamp. As well as my headlamp worked, I don’t think boulder fields and dark are like peanut butter and chocolate. My down time was slower than the up at about 3 hours, 40 minutes. However, my GPS saved the day as I hit my five waypoints on the way back all to within 50 feet and was it ever nice to be on well marked trail again.

So what was the benefit of making a 12.5 mile, 4,000-foot gain night trek after spending two days baking on the lake and one night sleeping in the back of my ’79 Chevy truck? You’d have to be married to appreciate the logic. I got back home with the truck, boat, and myself at 4:30 am. Sleep is overrated anyway.