Reservation Divide Trail #98 to Ch-paa-qn Peak

MODERATE 16 reviews
#12 of 29 trails in

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.

7.2 miles
1,938 feet
Out & Back

dogs on leash




trail running



wild flowers




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.

14 days ago

What a beautiful hike! Be careful to pay attention to where to get back on the trail head if you traverse up the rocks to the summit. We had a few panic moments trying to find the trail head out after we came down off that gorgeous peak. There were not a lot of cairin's built ... maybe build a few on your way up through the rocks and closer to the trail head especially.

1 month ago

Went 2 weeks ago before haze from wildfire smoke moved in and the views were fantastic. The getting there part and the hike itself left a little to be desired. The road is very rough on the way up so be aware of that. The hike through the forest was pleasant if you like wooded hikes and was pretty easy. There were a TON of mosquitoes though. The scramble to the peak is definitely a scramble and will take a decent amount of time to complete. You’re scrambling over large boulders, that as per usual scrambling, aren’t always well-seated or stable. It’s certainly doable though. However, be ware of the tufted bits of grass here and there amongst the boulders. I stepped on one that wasn’t totally rooted in, lost my balance and fell thigh-first into the knife edge of one of the boulders, ripped my pants, gashed and severely bruised my thigh and tore up the palm of my hand. Despite all the blood and gore, I refused to NOT go to the top, and it really was a beautiful view from up there. Just be very careful on the rocks and grass tufts. The little pikas that came out on our way down were especially wonderful. And the mountain bluebirds and Clark’s nutcrackers were gorgeous. Nice hike overall, just knocked it down a couple stars due to the road in and the long scramble at the top. (Also, total clocked distance for me was 7.6 miles.)

7 months ago

live right below it, it's a 10-20 minute drive to the trail head from my house love the views but be warned if you go to the small lake below make sure you have plenty of water it takes a good hour to two hours just to get down plus an additional 3 to get up due to the steepness of the back side was driving in arlee and you could just see how steep the other side was compared to the ninemile side definitely a must do if you like to hike.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Nice hike, don't forget to lift your sight from the rocks and roots. The beargrass fields are a nice place to look in all directions. The boulder hoping at the top is doable. The 360 degree at the top is unique.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Incredible views from the top. The trail is relatively easy and flat 75% of the trip. Toughest part is the last climb to the top over talus rock. Well worth every step.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Id rate this a leaning towards the duffuclt side. There are a couple of places for water along the way, on the main trail. Huckleberries seem to be plentiful. The view in the top is incredible, go when there are no fires to create haze. Don't make the trek without a clear day. Cell service on top of the peak. Last few hundred yards is talus rock.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

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.

2 months ago

7 months ago

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Monday, October 10, 2016

Monday, August 15, 2016

Saturday, July 02, 2016