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    The highest point on U.S. Highway 12 between Missoula, Mont. and Lewiston, Idaho, Lolo Pass (elev. 5,235') offers multiple recreation opportunities. In the winter, it's a popular snowmobiling and cross country ski destination, with miles of groomed trails. Backcountry skiers also enjoy the surrounding terrain.

    In the summer, rock climbers head to the nearby Crystal Theater, while the numerous logging roads in the area give off-roaders lots of room to explore.

    Note that a parking pass, available at the Lolo Pass Visitor's Center , must be purchased during the winter months. You can visit the Clearwater National Forest's official Lolo Pass Web page here.

    Because of its proximity to Missoula, Lolo Peak is one of the most-climbed peaks in the Bitterroots. Unfortunately many fail to reach the peak’s highest point on the south summit (9,139’). Most stop at the rock shelter on the north summit (9,096’).

    The easiest way up this peak begins at the official Lolo Peak Trailhead on Mormon Peak Road. Since that road is closed between December 1st and May 15th each year, skiers use the Mill Creek trailhead (6.5 miles farther west on U.S. Highway 12).

    Most hikers use the long-established and very obvious route (Class 1 and 2) up the east ridge through one of the nicest growths of Alpine Larch anywhere. Intrepid climbers, who prefer point-to-point routes, first climb Sweeney Peak then follow the long connecting ridge to Lolo’s south summit. This climbers’ route includes fun Class 4 and low Class 5 climbing with sections of airy exposure.

    Skiers, who love Lolo’s many backcountry runs, begin hiking from the Mill Creek Trailhead. Depending upon their choice of ski descents, they either join the standard trial up the east ridge or approach from the west over Lantern Ridge.

    The Bitterroot Resort has proposed building the largest ski area in the country in the wilderness study area on the peak's northeastern face, but those plans have not received the required approval from the U.S. Forest Service.

    —Michael Hoyt

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