Sweeney Ridge Trail to Peterson Lake is a 9.5 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Florence, Montana that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and camping and is best used from June until September.
From Florence, MT drive south on Hwy 93 about 1.5 miles and turn right (west) onto Sweeney Creek Loop. Where the road turns left (south) after one mile, continue straight (west) for about 0.4 miles on gravel past residences to a junction. Turn right (north) onto FR 1315 following the signs to Sweeney Creek Ridge Trail. Drive nearly six miles to the end of the road.
Great trail!! We ran most of it... Beautiful lake at the end! Really steep for the first 3km
Wonderful hike. Good uphill slope, beautiful views of mountain ridges and the Bitteroot valley. Lake was very buggy. Beautiful forest. Waterfall and springs along the way.
We backpacked in the five miles with my wife and five kids and had a great time. The elevation change is deceptive on the topo maps the lake is only 600 feet above your start point but careful observation will note the 1800 feet up and 1200 feet decent back to the lake. Beyond Peterson Lake are two more lakes about three miles further and worth the hike as well.
As noted by others, if you are looking at a day hike this would be a tough hump for kids.
Hiked this trail last month with my son. Terrific scenery from a rock overlook. Wild flowers & Bear grass were in bloom. Bypassed Peterson Lake after a couple & fishermen said they were run off by flies & mosquitos. They were correct. Continued to Lake Duffy & took a quick cold dip. Take plenty of water or be prepared to refill from springs.
This trail leads you to Peterson Lake which is also found on this app. I reviewed it there. First couple miles are pretty tough, mostly uphill!
This trail is also called Sweeney Ridge and it kicked my butt. The FS road to reach the trailhead was the first test of my resolve. Make sure you have some good tires, a few sharp rocks litter the narrow, winding road up the side of the mountain. It was slow going but my Camaro (yes you read that right) made it though.
The hike itself started out pretty tough for me. The trail itself is pretty well maintained. The first couple miles are mostly uphill. However there are rewards for sticking it out. There are a few overlooks that give you amazing views of the Bitterroot's sheer walls, crags, snow capped peaks, and Peterson Lake. You'll come across some streams of runoff that you'll have to hop over. You'll find some relief when you finally realize you're going downhill, only to remind yourself you'll have to hike back up to get home. I stopped about a mile short of the lake because I was done hiking up and down the hills for the day and knew I had to slug back to my car, but I plan to return. This would be an excellent multi-day hike/camp.
Traffic was pretty light for a weekend. I came across several groups of hikers, but few and far between. I really didn't see any wildlife, but quite a bit of wildflowers if you're into that!
I wouldn't recommend this trail to beginners or kids, but it's well worth the time and soreness to explore!
MODERATE...my foot! Seriously, this is a gorgeous hike but the first mile and a half is very challenging. Very steep trail feels even steeper with a 12 pound pack. Nevertheless, it's quite worth the exertion.