Invisible from the floor of the Bitterroot Valley, this mountain remains a mystery to most. Located far back of the Fred Burr Canyon, Totem Peak (8,521’) does not stand out from its neighbors. Even those hiking the Fred Burr Trail as it meanders along the bottom of the canyon generally fail to notice its presence.
The best route begins at the Fred Burr Trailhead and follows an old access road to the reservoir’s dam. Continue around the lake’s north side on the well-maintained trail until you’ve hiked about 7.5 miles from the trailhead.
Leave the trail and cross to the north side of Fred Burr Creek. Bushwhack (Class 2+) in a northerly direction toward the ridge-crest. The best place to gain the ridge is slightly west of the obvious saddle. Once on the ridge, it’s a simple westward hike along the crest to the summit.
This mountain’s namesake, The Totem, is on a ridge north of the actual summit.—Michael Hoyt
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