Finding the trailhead is a bit of a challenge. Drive to the town of Clark Fork and then turn north by the Chevron station (Main Street) and pass the high school. The road goes through a residential area before it turns right at about a mile. Do not turn north on Rapid Lightening. Instead, continue east as it becomes Forest Road 276. Drive for 2.5 miles uphill until you reach Road 2294A. Go right and pass a sign that says you are entering Grizzly Country. Drive another half mile to Road 1058 and turn left. Keep a close eye out for the Trail 65 sign and drive several miles to the trailhead. It ends by crossing Mosquito Creek.
If you go in the winter you will need a high clearance 4X4. Even then, the road can be frozen in the morning and by afternoon muddy or have soft snow. Use good judgment.
I made the trailhead with little trouble. By 7:40 I was on my way uphill. And Scotchman’s doesn’t waste time getting your heart rate going. The trail is in good shape and well traveled but this time of the year expect some deadfall. The trail eventually reaches the ridge and follows this all the way to high ridge. If there is snow, just stay on the ridge and make your way through the forest. I found the going relatively easy – 1750’ vertical per hour. Once I reached the upper ridge, the summit of Scotchman’s was in sight. The windblown slopes can be slick. It’s a good idea to bring some kind of traction device. I met up with another solo hiker who had crampons. Generally, there is wind on the ridgeline and it can be chilly. This was not the case yesterday as blue, still skies made the experience of reaching the summit even more pleasant. I reached the top by 10:00 am. And there were views in every direction. This remains one of my favorite hikes in the area and the challenge and views are well worth the effort.
Photo #1 – Scotchman’s from the ridgeline
Photo #2 – looking east from the summit into Montana and Apex “A” Peak
Photo #3 – Heading down the ridgeline
Last but very not least. Always remember to be mindful of your surrounds such as falling cornaces and avalanches.
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