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FATMAP difficulty grade
Montana’s Flathead Valley is surrounded by soaring mountains… but most of the mountain peaks directly adjacent to the valley don’t break above treeline.
For true alpine summits, most hikers head to nearby Glacier National Park.
But if you want to hike closer to the Flathead and you want to skip the crowds of Glacier, Mount Aeneas is a more-than-worthy objective. Rising to a height of 7,528 feet above sea level, Aeneas is one of the few mountains bordering the Flathead Valley that soars well above treeline.
However, the hike to the summit still isn’t overly long or strenuous—climbing just 1,857 feet and covering 6.3 miles round-trip, Aeneas can be tackled as a half-day hike by most athletic hikers. Beginning from the Jewel Basin parking area, the route follows an old road grade up around the mountainside, before splitting off onto a more scenic singletrack trail (#717).
Continuing to climb and switchback up the mountain, the trail is never too steep or exposed.
As you climb higher, the thick forest slowly begins to clear, and the views of the valley below get more and more impressive.
Upon reaching the ridgeline, you’ll stumble across a microwave tower with a dominant view of the valley below.
From the microwave tower to the summit, the hike ascends a steep ridgeline.
In places, the ridge can be exposed, but the trail is still relatively non-technical.
Beginning at the microwave tower and extending to the summit, “you are almost guaranteed to run into mountain goats,” [according to Katch Silva on TheOutbound.com](https://www.theoutbound.com/montana/hiking/hike-to-summit-of-mount-aeneas).
"If [mountain goats] happen to be on trail, give them plenty of space and either wait for them to move along or hike off trail long enough to get around them,” [advises NatGeoTourism.com](https://crownofthecontinent.natgeotourism.com/content/mount-aeneas-trail-717-bigfork-montana/cotb2fb212a36c48ade4).
Once on the summit, you’ll enjoy expansive views of the surrounding region.
.gives amazing 360 degree views of Glacier National Park, the Bob Marshall Wilderness, Flathead Valley, and Hungry Horse Reservoir,” [according to Silva](https://www.theoutbound.com/montana/hiking/hike-to-summit-of-mount-aeneas).
For the return trip, you can either descend the same way you climbed up (the easiest option), or you can choose to drop down to the Picnic Lakes in the basin to the north, and then climb back up to the microwave tower before descending to your car.
This option adds additional distance, as well as much more climbing, so only tack on this extension if you haven’t had enough and are looking for a little extra challenge. While most of the crowds will be heading to Glacier National Park or the nearby Bob Marshall Wilderness, Aeneas remains a largely undiscovered jewel in the Jewel Basin.