This 5.5 mile trail welcomes hikers, equestrians, and ORVs alike an a trail that climbs from Bonaparte Lake to the still actively staffed Bonaparte Lookout. Two lookouts perch and squat respectively atop the summit of Bonaparte.
The more modern, taller tower is a huge, stout affair bedecked with solar panels and all manner of communication equipment. Nestled at its foot is the original 1914 fire lookout. This fantastic bit of history is now ignominiously being used as a tool shed.
There are several options to approach this peak. The southern approach, which utilizes a network of Forest Service Roads. The first couple of miles climb steadily through ponderosa forest. Soon, the trail levels out, contouring around to the north side of the mountain. At two miles, the trail comes to a junction with the Antoine Trail 304.
As you hike, notice that the trail keeps reinventing itself. As the aspect and elevation changes it switches between ponderosa pines to lodgepole pines, then to whitebark pines. In several spots there are colorful larches interspersed in the canopy.
After three miles, the trail joins an ATV track towards the summit. The track may be rutted from motorized use, but it also provides a no-nonsense, efficient way for the Forest Service to supply the lookout.
This last stretch along the road lasts for about 2.5 miles, leading to a large summit that is fun to explore. A picnic table exists, a hitching post for horses, the aforementioned 1914 fire lookout, and a very creative snow melting operation to supply water to lookout personnel. The views are expansive and many rock benches are exposed inviting one to lounge and linger in the warm autumn sun.
WTA Pro Tip: Consult your map before heading out -- it is possible to construct a few loops in this area using other trails that interweave with the Bonaparte Trail.
- 11.0 miles, roundtrip
- Elevation Gain
- 2700 feet
- Highest Point
- 7250 feet
Hiking Bonaparte Trail
Map & Directions
Co-ordinates: 48.8129, -119.1236 Open in Google Maps