Flathead National Forest Wilderness Areas 


Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex

The Mission Mountains Wilderness

Jewel Basin


Hiking on Big Mountain

     Over 1 million acres within the Flathead National Forest has been dedicated as Wilderness areas. 

     These areas comprise about 46% of the Forest's total land base.





Bob Marshall, Great Bear, and Scapegoat Wilderness Complex

This Wilderness Complex is 1,009,256 acres near the Montana cities of Great Falls, Kalispell, and Missoula. The area follows the Continental Divide about 60 miles from north to south and contains varying elevations of 5,000 to over 9,000 feet.  


Entrance Points

West:  Holland Lake

           Pyramid Pass

North:  Bear Creek

            Spotted Bear River

            Meadow Creek

East:   Gibson Reservoir


South: North Fork of the Blackfoot River




Fish:  Native black-spotted Cutthroat and Dolly  Varden Trout

Hunt big game


Study rocks and fossils

Float or canoe the exciting South Fork Flathead River

Photograph wildlife and scenery

Pick wild berries

Enjoy the wilderness

Permits None
Licenses Hunting or fishing licenses are managed by The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. They are available through the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks and from most sporting good stores. Licenses are NOT available from Forest Service Offices.
Group Size

Maximum of: 15 persons,

35 stock, pack or draft animals

Stay Limited to 14 consecutive days at one location. When this limit is reached, the camper must move at least 5 miles to another campsite.
Pets Permitted


Special Restrictions

Equipment transportation through these areas is permitted, however, containment of stock animals is restricted. Advanced signing of the closures will be provided.to limit resource damage of fragile shorelines, containment of livestock is prohibited within 300' of the lakeshores of the following lakes:


A. Lake George

F. Pendant Lakes (all)
 B. Doctor Lake G. Woodward Lake
C. Koessler Lake H. Palisade Lakes (all)
D. Lick Lake I.  Lena Lake
E. Necklace Lakes (all)   J. Big Knife Lakes (all)


Some of the More Popular Trails are:


Big Prairie Area

Big River Meadow Area

Big Salmon Creek Trail #110

Black Bear Area   

Bowl Creek Trail #324 

Danaher Trail #126  

Gateway Creek Trail #322

Gordon Creek Trail #35     

Gorge Creek Trail #218 

Hahn Creek Trail #125

Holland Gordon Trail #35

Big Salmon Lake, Bob Marshal Wilderness Area

Holland Gordon Trail #35

Salmon Forks Area 

South Fork Alternative #263

South Fork Flathead River Trail #80

 South Fork White River Trail #138

 Stadler Creek Trail #271

Strawberry Creek Trail #161

 Sunburst Lake Trail #693

 White River Trail #112

 Youngs Creek River Trail #141

For a more comprehensive listing of trails within the Bob Marshall Complex a guidebook to this vast area is available at www.falconguide.com.



The Mission Mountain Wilderness   

Mission Mountain Wilderness Area

Mission Mountain Wilderness Area

The Mission Mountains Wilderness was officially classified as Wilderness on January 4, 1975. It contains 73,877 acres and is managed in accordance with the Wilderness Act of 1964. As with all Wilderness areas, no motorized travel is permitted.



When to visit

July 1 through October 1 is the main hiking season and early visitation difficult and hazardous.
June is normally a wet month with snow still existing within the high country, shaded basins, and northern aspects. July, August, and September are dry months with daytime temperatures within the 80-90 degree range, while nights are very cool. Snow may occur at any time with heavy snow usually falling in late October and early November.



There are about 45 miles of maintained Forest Service miles within the Wilderness. Because of the rugged terrain most trails are better suited to hiking than horseback. Throughout the Mission Mountain Wilderness you will find old Native American and packer trails. They are suitable only for the most experienced horse users or backpackers and one should possess map reading and compass skills.


Entrance Points
The Swan Valley contains the most heavily used access points:
Glacier Creek Fatty Creek
Cold Lakes Beaver Creek
Piper Creek
Other access points:
Lindbergh Lake Meadow Lake
Jim Lakes Elk Point
Hemlock Creek


A permit is not needed to camp in the Flathead National Forest portion of the Wilderness, however, no overnight camping is permitted at Glacier Lake or Cold Lakes. The Mission Mountain Wilderness Map is a good reference for camping restrictions, trails and topographic layout. "Leave no Trace" principles apply to all activities within the Wilderness and a special food storage order is in effect: Hang attractants at least 10 feet off the ground and 4 feet away from any vertical support, such as a tree.
You do not need a permit for a camp fire in the Wilderness, but in areas and seasons with high fire danger you need to check to see if open fires are banned. Be sure your camp fire is completely dead before leaving it. Backpack stoves are recommended whenever possible.
Hunting and Fishing
Hunting and fishing is allowed within the Wilderness during the designated seasons. Permits are available through the Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks but are not through the Flathead National Forest.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

Flathead National Forest Fishing Site


The Jewel Basin

Jewel Basin Hiking Area

Jewel Basin Hiking Area

The Jewel Basin is located east of Kalispell and west of the Hungry Horse Reservoir at the north end of the Swan Mountain Range. The Basin is 15,349 acres including 27 lakes and 35 miles of trails. The Jewel Basin is specially designated for hiking only, with motorized vehicles and horses restricted.

  Fishing in Jewel Basin


When to Visit

Peak season is generally in July and August during the weekends. High lakes may still carry ice and trails can be snow covered any earlier than July. During the winter, use of the Jewel Basin is limited.

Entrance Points

The main parking area is reached by following  Highway 83 to the Echo Lake Road and further up to the Jewel Basin Road No. 5392. A separate western access is off the Foothills Road turning onto Krause Creek Road No. 5390.
From the east on the west side of the Hungry Horse Reservoir there are five forest roads branching from the main road.
1). Buck Road No. 985C 4). Graves Creek Road No. 897
2). West Fork Clayton Creek Road  No. 9833 5). Wheeler Creek Road No. 895F
 3). Clayton Creek Road No. 1633

Jewel Basin Trails - Guide to distances and trail difficulty

Trail No. From / To Total Distance (Mi.) Difficulty Rating (relative)
717 / 7 Camp Misery Trailhead (717) to Birch Lake (7) 3.0 Moderate
8 / 68 / 7 / 392 Camp Misery Trailhead   to Picnic Lake 2.5 Strenuous
8 / 721 Camp Misery Trailhead (8) to Twin Lakes (721) 2.5 Moderate
719 Black Lake (719) to Jewel Basin 0.5 Easy
719 Jewel Basin  (719) to Bitterroot Lake 1.6 Easy
8 / 7 / 55 Camp Misery to Clayton Lake 6.2 Easy
420 Rd. 1633 to Clayton Lake (420) 2.3 Moderate
717 Camp Misery to Mt. Aeneas  (717) 3.0 Strenuous
717 Mt. Aeneas to Picnic Lakes (717) 1.2 Easy
8 / 7 / 723 Camp Misery to Wildcat Lake 4.3 Moderate




A permit is not needed to camp within The Jewel Basin. When choosing a campsite find one away from trails, meadows, lakes and streams to reduce your impact on fragile areas.
Campfires are permitted in the Jewel Basin but it is asked that you use a lightweight camp stove. No open campfires are allowed within 500 feet of Birch, Crater, Twin and Picnic Lakes, to prevent further damage around the lake shores.
All visitors are required to keep food and trash away from bears to help ensure your safety as well as the bears. Hang all food or store in a bear resistant container.
Map ordering information of all Wilderness areas within the Flathead National Forest can be accessed by clicking the link below:


FNF Map Ordering Page

Back to Flathead NF Homepage