Columbia Mountain Tr. No. 51 is a 2.5 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Columbia Falls, Montana that features a lake and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, and fishing and is accessible from July until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
The alpine pack trail gives stunning over looks of the Flathead Valley. The trail crosses the ridge multiple times as it runs South; it passes west of Doris Mtn (7437ft), east of Blaine Mtn (7207ft), over Hash Mtn (7063ft), over Strawberry Mtn (6264ft), east of or over Mt Aeneas (7530ft), east of Crater Mtn (6787ft) far west of Big Hawk Mtn (7542ft) west of Tom Tom Mtn (7070) ending south of Tom Tom at the intersection of the Peterson Trail 293 and Trail #72. Prominent lakes along the trail include Lamoose, Strawberry, Wildcat, Birch, Squaw, and Crater. with many other a shrot hike off the trail. A large stretching of the trail runs trough the west of the Jewel Basin hiking area offering multiple options of camping, fishing and alternative routes. There are sparse camping options south of Big Hawk Mtn after the trail exits the Jewel.
Did this trail Aug 8th-9th with a couple of friends. Started at Columbia Mt trailhead, hiked to Jenny lake to camp the night. Great place to stop lots of fish great place to swim and cool off. Left next morning to head for Jewel Basin. The trail at some spots is closed in by brush around Strawberry lake area. Long climb out of Strawberry, beautiful scenery. Total trip from Columbia parking lot to Camp Misery 28.23 miles.
A great trail and we'll maintained by the Swan River Ranger District. The southern half from Six Mile south is also a great hike, don't pass this one up.
I have the majority of this trail in bits and pieces over the last few years, have yet to follow it further north than Strawberry Lake. Great trail for seeing variety, some good look outs, lakes and plenty of branching trails. Having traveled it in rain, snow, sun, and dark (moon and no moon) I would recommend not doing it in the rain; the trail gets very muddy and water collects in and over it in low areas. Snow can linger on it well though July and the beginning of August. I selected august for this review because that is generally when i am on it after the snow melts down enough (late July) it is usable though October.