Garnet Mountain is the less-traveled, longer, and steeper hike compared to its close neighbor, Storm Castle Peak. The haul up to the fire lookout can look (and feel) relentless, but the views at the top are easily worth it!
From the trailhead, immediately cross the bridge over Storm Castle Creek. The trail swings right underneath a thick pine forest. From here on out, a steady uphill climb awaits. Continue on Trail No. 85, making the occasional stop at lookout points over the Gallatin River Canyon. Watch for signs of wildlife on the trail. Deer and grouse are frequent visitors during the spring and fall months.
The trail joins a dirt road 3.5 miles in. Turn left and make the final half mile push to the fire lookout. In the summer, expect light ATV traffic and some loose footing.
When you’re standing on the top of Garnet Mountain, Storm Castle Peak seems far below you. The peaks of Hyalite dominate the eastern horizon, Gallatin Range lies to the south, and the Spanish Peaks loom closely to the west. If you look carefully, you can catch the faint glimmer of the ever popular Lava Lake to your southwest.
With early planning, you may be able to rent the lookout for the night. The cost is $30 for a total of four people. Beds come with a well-used foam pad and are bunkbed style. Weekend availability in the summer and hunting season goes fast.
Alternatively, Garnet Mountain can also be summited from the Rat Lake Trailhead further down Storm Castle Road.