Reservation Divide Trail #98 to Ch-paa-qn Peak is a 7.2 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Missoula, Montana that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
At 7996 feet, Ch-paa-qn (pronounced "Cha pa kwin") Peak marks the highest point on the Ninemile Ranger District and is a major attraction for hikers in the local area. From the summit on a clear day, a person can experience a panoramic view of the surrounding areas. Ch-paa-qn, or Squaw Peak, as it is historically named, is the familiar symmetrical pyramid west of Missoula, sitting high atop the Ninemile drainage on the Reservation Divide. The peak is located in the northern Bitterroot Range within the Coeur d'Alene Mountains, Lolo National Forest, Ninemile Ranger District. The Reservation Divide is the ridgeline that separates the Ninemile drainage to the south from the Flathead Reservation and River drainage to the north. The summit is also on the boundary of Missoula and Sanders' counties. Currently, most locals are unfamiliar with the new name, which comes from the original Salish place name for the mountain meaning "gray, treeless mountain top." Initial translations of the word were thought to mean "shining mountain," however this was later disproved. Ch-paa-qn is unique in that it is one of very few peaks in the state that possesses at least 4,000 feet of prominence. You don't have to know the details surrounding the math here to realize how "prominently" it stands out in the area - no other peak in the area is nearly as tall and it can be seen for many miles from many directions. Ch-paa-qn is popular with locals, as the peak is fairly close and easy to reach, as well as providing magnificent views of the Mission, Couer d'Alene, Flathead, Swan, and Bitterroot mountains. The peak is popular with backcountry skiiers, as the numerous bowls, glades and chutes make for excellent opportunities. Most people visit Ch-paa-qn in the summer when the trail is snow-free. The Reservation Divide Trailhead at 6229 feet is typically accessible from spring to late fall. HELPFUL TIPS Bring lots of food and water as there are no water sources. It is often very windy and so even if the temperature down in the valley is in the 70's or 80's you may need a light jacket. You have three options for getting to the summit from this trail: 1. You can take the shorter route and abandon the trail when the forest starts to open up (around 47 9'6.57"N, 11421'16.07"W or 2.75 miles in). This will involve much more scrambling over rocks. 2. You can stay on the trail and follow it across the south face of the mountain. Eventually you'll hit an intersection at which point you can turn right onto trail #707 (at 47 9'9.27"N, 114 21'48.67"W or 3.2 miles in) which will take you much further up the mountain before reaching the rocks. This option is recommended as it only adds 0.5 miles of flat trail but it is much easier. This is also the route with the official distance of 7.75 miles (roundtrip). 3. If you have a GPS or are feeling bold a third option is to ditch the trail even earlier around 478'59.58"N, 11420'13.99"W or 1.83 miles in and bushwhack along the ridge all the way to the peak. If the trail starts to move west off the ridge you've stayed on the trail too long. You get the advantage of scrambling over fewer rocks, a shorter distance, and better views along the way but again there is no trail.
Fairly easy out and back on a well worn trail until the scramble to the peak. People get lost coming off the peak in fog or snow so have a compass or know where your are when conditions are poor. Great views of the bitter roots, missions, Rattlesnake, missoula and mission valleys, and glacier and the cabinets to the north and northwest.