Montana’s Spanish Peaks
Creating The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s northwest boundary are the Spanish Peaks. The highest peak stretches more than 11,000′ into the air but the highest point on the Wild West Trail is 9,600′. The huge mountains hold snow in north facing slopes sometimes 12-months of the year. The trails are well used and well maintained and feature gorgeous high alpine saddles to cross.
High Alpine lakes fill valleys, holding schools of trout and even Arctic Grayling. Wonderful campsites dot lake shores and the hiking can only be described as world class.
McAllister, MT is the closest access town if you are entering the mountains from the west. Most common is to hike in from the east, near Big Sky, Mt.
Fishing In The Spanish Peaks
The best fishing is had in late summer after all the ice has melted and the air temperatures have warmed considerably. The dog days of summer make the trout hungry to bite almost anything. Higher water temperatures speed up their cold-blooded metabolisms, forcing them to eat more. The location of the lakes makes food less common than in lower elevation rivers and reservoirs. Throw flies and spinners that resemble the insects the fish are targeting.
Grizzly Bears In The Spanish Peaks
The entire trail from McAllister south into and through Yellowstone is Grizzly Country. When camping in high alpine areas, it may be hard to find a tree suitable enough for a bear hang. Leave plenty of daylight to find appropriate campsites.
Wild West Trail Notes
Local Montana folks always carry an ax with them while hiking. This cultural trend means there is plenty of trail maintenance and bridges built over most stream crossings. The trails are easy to follow and make the beautiful Spanish Peaks that much better to explore. As an ultralighter, I almost feel guilty not also carrying a tool to help with the trails but sometimes, getting those miles is more important. Don’t forget to thank a local when you see them!
There are also tons of huckleberries in this section of trail.