Scalplock Lookout Trail
Scalplock Mountain, Glacier National Park
Scalplock Lookout Trail
Trailhead: Walton Ranger Station (along U.S.Highway 2)
Distance: 4.7 miles (one way)
Elevation Gain: 3,079 vertical feet
The hike to the Scalplock Lookout and the summit of Scalplock Mountain (elevation 6,919 feet) is quite steep, gaining nearly 3,000 vertical feet in just over 3 miles, so you really should be in reasonable physical condition to attempt this Glacier National Park hike. There are good views of Great Northern Mountain of the Great Bear Wilderness, and there is also a very interesting view of the famous Mount Saint Nicholas from the upper deck of the Scalplock Lookout.
Finding The Trailhead
The trailhead to the Scalplock Lookout Trail is next to the Walton Ranger Station along U.S. Highway 2 in the southern section of Glacier National Park. Walton Ranger Station is about 26 miles east of West Glacier Montana on U.S. Highway 2, near the town of Essex Montana.
Walton Ranger Station in Glacier National Park.
Boundary Trail Sign (mile 0.0)
Your hike to Scalplock Mountain and Scalplock Lookout in Glacier National Park starts at the Boundary Trailhead sign near the Walton Ranger Station.
The initial section of this hike takes you along the Middle Fork of the Flathead River.
You will cross Ole Creek on a well built suspension bridge, and shortly after that you will encounter the Ole Creek Trail junction. The Ole Creek Valley runs all the way to Firebrand Pass, over 20 miles north from where you are standing on the Ole Creek suspension bridge in Glacier National Park.
Ole Creek Trail Junction (mile 1.1)
Scalplock Lookout Trail Junction (mile 1.5)
When you reach the Scalplock Lookout Trail junction, take a right. The trail will begin to abruptly climb nearly 3,000 vertical feet in just over 3 miles, which means you'd better be in relatively good physical condition before attempting this Glacier Park hiking trail.
On the way up this fairly steep trail, the views of the Middle Fork Flathead Valley get better and better, as Great Northern Mountain with Stanton Glacier dominates the southwest skyline. This huge mountain is located in the Great Bear Wilderness. In 3.2 miles and 3,000 vertical feet higher, you will reach the summit of Scalplock Mountain and the Scalplock Lookout.
Scalplock Mountain Summit and Scalplock Lookout (mile 4.7)
When you reach the summit of Scalplock Mountain, make sure to walk up to the upper deck of the Scalplock Lookout. This is a manned lookout, so there will be a person living here. Lookout people are usually very nice and welcoming... they don't get a lot of company and usually welcome it.
You can see far beyond even Mount Jackson to the north as you stand on the observation deck of Scalplock Mountain in Glacier National Park.
As you look to the northwest, you will see the Park Creek Valley, with Salvage Mountain and Church Butte towering above it, and further north you can't help but notice the sharp spire of Mount Saint Nicholas seemingly touching the sky. This is regarded by many as the overall most difficult peak to climb in Glacier National Park. If you look even further to the north, you will get a glimpse of the giant Mount Stimson, and many other mountains of the central Lewis Range. And still further to the north, you will actually see Mount Jackson with Harrison Glacier resting on its south face.
Great Northern Mountain with Stanton Glacier, along with many other Flathead Range peaks of the Great Bear Wilderness dominates the view to the southwest, and you will get a good look at the Middle Fork Flathead Valley far below you.
Make sure you bring your own water because there is no water along the trail to Scalplock Lookout, and there is also no water available at the lookout.
Scalplock Lookout in Glacier National Park, with Great Northern Mountain in the distance.