Many people who live in the vicinity of the Bitterroot Mountains have heard of Sky Pilot, elevation 8,792’, though few recognize its prominence from the valley floor. Situated at the north end of one of the most beautiful hanging valleys in the Bitterroots, this peak was christened after the flower of the same name. This mountain is perched directly on the Montana/Idaho state-line, a long way from any trailhead.

The most-used path to this summit begins at the Bear Creek trailhead then proceeds westward on the well-maintained stock trail meandering along Bear Creek.

Bryan Lake, with its many camp sites, is eight miles from the trailhead. Situated hard against the bottom edge of the slab-granite and craggy ridge-crest of the Montana/Idaho state line running along its west side, this cutthroat-filled lake is one of the most beautiful backcountry lakes in the Bitterroots.

From the lake the trail continues north up and over a series of benches to a saddle at Bear Creek Pass. The route (Class 2+) then goes off-trail as it ascends the west ridge to the summit.

Despite the mountain's remoteness, numerous aspects have been skied. The views from the summit area are simply astounding.

Michael Hoyt


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