Ch-paa-qn Peak: The perfect day trip from Missoula with Friends 🙂
Location: Just a quick hour and a half drive headed West towards Coeur d’Alene on I-90 from Missoula, this hike is located atop the “Ninemile drainage” on the Reservation Divide. The peak is located at the meeting point between the Coeur d’Alene Mountains, Lolo National Forest, and the Ninemile Ranger District.
Getting there: We used this website for directions, and went on the “Reservation Divide Trail #98”. Ch-Paa-Qn Peak Directions
The Hike: A total of 7 miles roundtrip: 3.5 one way up gaining 1200 feet elevation, and 3.5 descending down the summit on the return. The first 3 miles lead to the base of the peak, along a narrow dirt/small gravel trail through forested shady areas that quickly open up to wide open vistas and sweeping views of the Missoula valley. The last .5 miles includes scrambling up a rocky boulder cliff face on all 4’s, which is a unique and challenging way to reach the summit!
Our experience: We took our time, and after about an hour and a half, we reached the summit of the peak! The summit stands far above the tree line of the mountain, and is perched nearly 4,000 feet higher than any point on the surrounding mountains. Standing on the top of the peak, we took in 360 degree views of the Mission, Bitterroot, and Coeur d’Alene mountains. Standing on the top, the wind whistled past us, and whipped our hair in all directions. The changing of seasons was apparent as the sun warmed us from above and and the cool autumn breeze simultaneously chilled our exposed skin. After a quick lunch in a manmade rock wall that obstructed the wind, we snapped a few more pics and then made our way back down.
Our review: 10/10. Start early in the day to avoid the crowds! Also make sure to bring lots of snacks, water, and a warm jacket or windbreaker for the chilly winds at the top of the summit. Our favorite part of the hike was gaining a new perspective on the popular recreation areas surrounding Missoula that we frequently visit. Seeing how small and miniscule Mount Jumbo is in comparison to Ch-paa-qn summit was also a unique realization for us!