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Montana - Summit 8004 11Sept2016

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This ridgeline hike follows a user trampled trail to Morrell Mountain, W7M/GA-068 and then becomes mostly an open rolling ridgeline to the unnamed summit, 8004. Along the entire route are excellent views of the Seeley Lake valley and the Mission Mountains, Scapegoat and Bob Marshall Wilderness Areas.The trailhead is in a saddle just below a closed gate access to Morrell Lookout.

Trail miles: 1.0 plus off trail ridgeline hike of 2.0 miles one way. Elevation gain: ~600’ Terrain: open rock and rolling ridge. Map: Lolo National Forest, Seeley Lake Ranger District

Directions: From Seeley Lake Montana take the Cottonwood Lakes road on the North end of town. Follow this road east for approximately 7.5 miles to Cottonwood Lakes. Upon arriving at Cottonwood lakes, look for the Morrell Lookout Road angling off to the left, northeast.

Follow this climbing native surface gravel road approximately 8 miles to a saddle/road switchback and road closure gate just short of the Morrell Lookout. The trailhead to Morrell Mountain is unsigned.

The unsigned trail goes north along the ridge and not south along the road to the Lookout. Follow this trail for nearly 1 mile to near the summit of Morrell Mountain. Then continue along the prominent up and down ridgeline for another 2 miles to the 8004 summit.

The rolling ridgeline easy to follow. Maximum decent/ascent is just over 600’ from Morrell Mountain on one of the five ridgeline saddles that you’ll travel through. The final scramble to the summit has a couple of cliff bands to negotiate. The route is easy from the bottom, but more challenging looking down as with most summits so mentally landmark your route for your decent.

There are ample trees on the summit for securing a wire antenna and open places for other antenna configurations. The panoramic views include many mouthwatering SOTA summits just beyond my day hiking ability.

The bursting wingbeats of spooked dusky grouse, bouncing mule deer and the howling of several wolves below the summit during the hike defined the thrilling and hair raising wildness of this country.