Berray Mountain

Berray Mountain, whose trailhead is easily accessible off MT-56, is a former lookout-tower site presenting spectacular 360-degree views of the Montana Cabinets, including the highest peaks in the center of the Cabinet Wilderness and Star Peak, also a former lookout tower site, located across the Bull River Valley, southwest of Berray. The uphill climb surprised with a variety of flora and features, including a brook and small pond.

Location Cabinet Mountains
Rating 3.6 out of 5
Difficulty Moderate (uphill)
Distance 10.9 miles
Duration 4:14 hours moving time (hiking)
Elevation Gain 3,748 feet
High Point 6,196 feet (Berray Mountain tower)
Low Point 2,360 feet (trailhead)
Trail Type Out-and-back
Trailbed Packed dirt, loose rocks
Trail# 967
Water A brook halfway up, a pond shortly past the 3-mile mark, and potentially a spring near the lookout tower
Status Unprotected
Administration Kootenai National Forest
Conditions Good. There is no deadfall, but the trail is overgrown in the more verdant sections and washed out in places where it crosses steep meadows
Permits None required
Camping None
Maps USGS Ibex Peak
Trailhead From MT-200, about 5 miles north of Noxon, take MT-56 north for 8 miles. Turn right onto FS-407 and follow it to the trailhead, about a mile, on your left. It is signed. There is parking for half a dozen cars.
Google Directions (48.116229, -115.79595)
Season Year-around
Squirrel Density Phenomenal!
Features Mountaintop, Structure, Meadow
Distance From
  • Coeur d’Alene 99.3 miles
  • Lewiston 212.9 miles
  • Sandpoint 53.5 miles
  • Seattle 403.3 miles
  • Spokane 125.4 miles
Resources
Nearby Hikes
Date July 27, 2018

Pillick RidgeBerray Mountain is the highest peak of a squat range squeezed in between the Bull River and its South Fork. Its other peaks and crags are unnamed. The trail ascends the southeast flank of this range, at first heading east through fairly dense forest using an old skid road. Soon enough that road gives way to a singletrack that continues along the mountain at a steady climb, still well shaded, with an interesting understory of mosses, ferns, and ninebark. The forest occasionally retreats somewhat, enabling nice views across the Bull River Valley towards Pillick Ridge.
A refreshing brook halfway up the mountainAbout a mile up, the trail ascends a ridge of the Berray Mountain range, and the forest lightens considerably, making way for lots of ocean spray, and, in the process, grand views into the Cabinets. The climb continues in a relatively arid part until you come upon a refreshing brook ahead of the 2.5-mile mark. Watch your step, as the trail is rather overgrown with thimbleberries and ferns, hiding rocks, roots, and branches. At the 2.5-mile mark a somewhat puzzling sign points uphill to “Berray Mtn. L.O.”–there is simply no other way to go.
A surprising pond shortly past the 3-mile markA bit past that point the trail enters a burn area and then crosses a few mountain meadows, the monotony of which is broken at the 3-mile marker, where you unexpectedly come upon a small pond. The ascent then continues, through alpine meadows and burnt forest, and at the 5-mile mark the trail is once again in an intact forest of larch and pine. Here also is the junction with trail #1028, an alternate (and easier) access route. Take the time and head 50 or so yards down that trail for a quick glance at the Berray lookout tower up ahead, then get back on trail #967 for a short half-mile ridge hike to the tower.
The lookout towerShortly ahead of the lookout tower is a sign indicating there is a spring down the western flank of Berray. We didn’t check it out; the length is indicated as .4 miles. The tower is still intact (mostly; a sign indicated it had minor deficiencies) and was once considered for rental, but nothing came of that. You can climb up the stairs, and the views at the top are truly spectacular in all directions.
Enjoy this hike? Let us know in the comments below!

Views into the southern Bull River valley open up quickly
Views into the southern Bull River valley open up quickly
Pillick Ridge
Pillick Ridge
Pillick Ridge
Pillick Ridge
The eastern Cabinets
The eastern Cabinets
A refreshing brook halfway up the mountain
A refreshing brook halfway up the mountain
The section along the brook is very green and overgrown
The section along the brook is very green and overgrown
The trees in the upper section are burnt. Some of the larches survived with blackened trunks
The trees in the upper section are burnt. Some of the larches survived with blackened trunks
A surprising pond shortly past the 3-mile mark
A surprising pond shortly past the 3-mile mark
Alpine meadows await near the top
Alpine meadows await near the top
The lookout tower
The lookout tower
The tower is intact. A recent inspection found only minor deficiencies. Not sure what that means (the inspection tag is hung from the tower)
The tower is intact. A recent inspection found only minor deficiencies. Not sure what that means (the inspection tag is hung from the tower)
The interior of the tower
The interior of the tower
View east into the Cabinets
View east into the Cabinets
View northwest (Sawtooth Mountain, Spar Peak, etc)
View northwest (Sawtooth Mountain, Spar Peak, etc)
The ridge leading up to the tower
The ridge leading up to the tower
Looking north. The jagged peaks in the foreground center-right are the Ibexes
Looking north. The jagged peaks in the foreground center-right are the Ibexes
USGS marker. That would be 6,177 ft according to the USGS maps. 6,196 on the tower
USGS marker. That would be 6,177 ft according to the USGS maps. 6,196 on the tower
Panorama shot from Berray Mountain
Panorama shot from Berray Mountain
The tower, taken from the junction with trail #1028
The tower, taken from the junction with trail #1028
Stay away from the wasps!
Stay away from the wasps!
The obligatory carcass. We saw the obligatory grouse, too, but werent quick enough with the camera
The obligatory carcass. We saw the obligatory grouse, too, but weren’t quick enough with the camera
Trailmap
Alternate Routes

  • An alternative trail is #1028, which cuts both distance (2.5 miles one way) and elevation gain (700 ft) considerably. The trailhead is on FR-2272, an offshoot of South Fork Bull River Road #410


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