Experience wilderness at its wildest on our Scapegoat Wilderness Backpacking Traverse along with wilderness legend Bill Cunningham and his son, Bryn. The landscape we hike across is unparalleled in rugged beauty as we explore the remote mountaintops and plateaus of the Scapegoat.
We begin our journey on the southern end of the Scapegoat, taking in one of the most impressive waterfalls in the Bob Marshall Complex, before scaling the imposing Evans Peak (8979’), which towers above the headwaters of the Blackfoot River. Then we scramble up onto the Scapegoat Plateau, a place of mythic proportions. This immense, high-elevation plateau resembles a moonscape interspersed with lush vegetative oases, where water literally bursts from the limestone rock only to disappear a few hundred yards away. Few people travel here, as access is difficult. We make the most of this rare opportunity and spend several days exploring the rock outcroppings and other geologic features.
Scapegoat Mountain (9202’) beckons us, revealing the sheer wall below, and the gentler Flint Mountain (9079’) provides views to the north. Mountain goats, bighorn sheep, deer, elk, and bears all call the plateau home, and we have a good chance of seeing some of these fine creatures. This is a place that inspires reverence and awe.
Once we leave the plateau, we continue off-trail to Observation Point, a triple divide watershed. The waters to the southwest flow to the Blackfoot; the waters to the east travel to the Sun River; and the waters to the northwest flow to the Flathead River. Camping along the Continental Divide, we day-hike up Sugarloaf Mountain (8698’), a square-topped peak that resembles a miniature Scapegoat Plateau. Our last few days involve exploring the ridge leading up to Patrol Mountain (8015’), home to a historic fire lookout, and camping in a high-elevation basin bursting with early summer flora, before sauntering out to the nearest trailhead.
The trip traverses the Scapegoat Wilderness from southwest to northeast, traveling some of the more remote corners of the wilderness. With over 75% of this trip off-trail and on rugged terrain, it is designed for folks with previous backpacking experience and the ability to carry a 35 to 45 pound pack. There is one food drop midway through the trip.
If you seek a wild, rugged, and challenging wilderness experience, this is the trip for you.