Ch-Paa-Qn Peak

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Today we headed west from Missoula to hike up Ch-Paa-Qn Peak.

This peak used to be called Squaw Peak but as part of the effort to remove that offensive name from landmarks it was renamed to Ch-Paa-Qn. (You can read more about that here.) From the right angle it’s a very pointy and easy-to-spot peak. This is the view from Highway 90 as we drove west from Missoula (pardon the windshield smudges):

Ch-Paa-Qn Peak Hike

The road up to the trailhead was a bit rough and rocky, which made for slow going. I’ve certainly been on worse roads, but I was glad I had the new BFG K02 tires on the Subaru. We were the first to arrive at the trailhead at 8am:

Ch-Paa-Qn Peak Hike

This was the only signage at the trailhead and is actually just beyond the parking area:

Ch-Paa-Qn Peak Hike

We set out on the Reservation Divide Trail, so named because on our left was the Lolo National Forest and on our right was the Flathead Reservation:

Ch-Paa-Qn Peak Hike

The first part was in the forest and some sections were pretty brushy:

Ch-Paa-Qn Peak Hike

Ch-Paa-Qn Peak Hike

We saw signs of recent maintenance to remove deadfall from the trail:

Ch-Paa-Qn Peak Hike

The brush diminished after awhile:

Ch-Paa-Qn Peak Hike

We saw a lot of heather in bloom:

Ch-Paa-Qn Peak Hike

The trees started to open up:

Ch-Paa-Qn Peak Hike

Then we were passing through some meadow areas:

Ch-Paa-Qn Peak Hike

Nice to see beargrass in bloom!

Ch-Paa-Qn Peak Hike

This was once a massive tree! I wonder how long it’s been dead and how much longer it’ll stand:

Ch-Paa-Qn Peak Hike

After about three miles and an hour and 45 minutes of easy hiking we reached the junction where we turned right to head up the peak:

Ch-Paa-Qn Peak Hike

This trail was pretty rocky:

Ch-Paa-Qn Peak Hike

Then the trail dumped us out at the bottom of a boulder field and it would be scrambling from here to the summit. In the photo below you can see the flag that descending hikers can aim for so they’re able to find the trail:

Ch-Paa-Qn Peak Hike

It wasn’t too bad at first:

Ch-Paa-Qn Peak Hike

Then it got harder:

Ch-Paa-Qn Peak Hike

Ch-Paa-Qn Peak Hike

We saw some clumps of penstemon in bloom along the way:

Ch-Paa-Qn Peak Hike

It was slow going scrambling up those boulders. It took us about half an hour to scramble from the end of the trail to the summit:

Ch-Paa-Qn Peak Hike

We sat down to eat a snack and enjoy the view:

Ch-Paa-Qn Peak Hike

Looking west at Three Lakes Peak, Blackrock Peak, and Deemer Peak:

Ch-Paa-Qn Peak Hike

Looking northwest:

Ch-Paa-Qn Peak Hike

To the northeast we could see the Mission Mountains:

Ch-Paa-Qn Peak Hike

Looking southeast to the distant Bitterroots:

Ch-Paa-Qn Peak Hike

Looking south:

Ch-Paa-Qn Peak Hike

Looking southwest:

Ch-Paa-Qn Peak Hike

There were some unnamed lakes below:

Ch-Paa-Qn Peak Hike

We sat up there for awhile eating our snacks, but it was very hot with no breeze, so we started back down at noon, after 45 minutes on the summit. We were surprised how many people we saw. About a dozen hikers came and went while we were up there, and we passed more uphill hikers on our way down. Scrambling down the boulder field was just as hard as going up, if not harder. It took concentration to pick my way down the rocks without injuring myself:

Ch-Paa-Qn Peak Hike

More beargrass:

Ch-Paa-Qn Peak Hike

Ch-Paa-Qn Peak Hike

We were very glad to finally make our back onto the easy Divide Trail and head back to the car. It was pretty hot and we did not dawdle.

Gaia stats: 7.3 miles, 1,860′ elevation gain