Scooting up Skookum Butte

It has been 2 years since I have made the short hike to the historic lookout atop Skookum Butte. This time, Vida joined me, well, she rather tolerated me as my hiking speed was limited to a crawl due to a cause of bronchitis and asthma (together in some kind of oxygen-deprived stew of disease). After a hard hour, we made it to the base of the granite pile that the lookout sits upon. A quick scramble up with Vida giggling the whole way (she has a thing for climbing over boulders), we explored the old L-5 lookout (cabin-style).

Skookum Butte sits on the Montana/Idaho border at 7215 feet. An ancient lookout sits atop of the knob of pillow granite. The Skookum Butte Lookout is one of only three remaining L-5 log/frame ground houses remaining. The wood has aged to barnwood gray, and the entire structure seems to be in danger of collapse at some point.

Getting There

Take US Hwy 12 for 10 miles from Lolo to Elk Meadows Road 451. Continue on this well-maintained gravel road for 12.1 miles. Look for the Forest Service Road sign for FR 2186. Turn right and travel 0.5 miles to the trailhead.

The Hike

  • Trail: Skookum Butte Trail #304
  • Distance: 1.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 932 feet
 Well...at least we know where we are going


Well…at least we know where we are going

 Reminds me of Alaska


Reminds me of Alaska

Although the trail is relatively short, it definitely goes up

Although the trail is relatively short, it definitely goes up

First view of the lookout, under a brilliant sun

First view of the lookout, under a brilliant sun

There was even some snow left

There was even some snow left

Skookum Butte Lookout is an old L-5 log and frame cabin, and only one of three remaining intact

Skookum Butte Lookout is an old L-5 log and frame cabin, and only one of three remaining intact

Vida Rz, the climber

Vida Rz, the climber

She made it, while looking pretty

She made it, while looking pretty

Apparently she knows where something is out there, somewhere

Apparently she knows where something is out there, somewhere

Now that is a cabin view

Now that is a cabin view

Unfortunately this landscape has massive scars from the clearcutting days

Unfortunately this landscape has massive scars from the clearcutting days

She's a keeper

She’s a keeper

On the way down

On the way down

Yep, that is a trail...kinda

Yep, that is a trail…kinda

 Last view of Skookum Butte as we descended


Last view of Skookum Butte as we descended

Written by Radd Icenoggle

I am a native Montanan, who has spent a lifetime as an outdoors and wildlife enthusiast. I earned a degree in biology with an emphasis on habitat relations. During my studies, I had the great fortune to research and compose a thesis that explored the effects of slope aspect on...
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