From Missoula, Montana, travel south on Highway 93 for approximately 90 miles to Sula. Go east on Highway 472 for about 15 miles and then south on Forest Road 5765/McCart Road for about 6 miles to the Johnson Peak Trailhead. Hike about 1.5 miles to the lookout tower.
HISTORIC & CULTURAL SITE, CAMPING, HIKING, WILDLIFE VIEWING, FIRE LOOKOUTS/CABINS OVERNIGHT
MCCL,BITTERROOT NF -FS
McCart Lookout is a historic tower located on McCart Peak, east of Sula. It has been restored to reflect a lookout of the 1940s, including the stove, furniture, dishes and other small touches. It offers a unique chance for visitors to camp on a mountain peak, on the border of the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness, in a rustic, old-time setting. The tower provides spectacular views of the surrounding western Montana wilderness.
The trail to reach the tower continues south and joins the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, which extends 3,100 miles across the United States, from the borders of Mexico to Canada. While it might take about six months to complete, a variety of day hikes and points of exploration are available within the area of the lookout tower. Trails can be enjoyed on foot or on horseback. Backpackers also enjoy the terrain. Aside from hiking and horseback riding, the area is replete with wildlife and offers scenic views. A lookout journal is kept inside, providing instructions of what to do in case of emergency or a storm. Danger from lightning is largely abated due to a lightning rod implanted at the structure.
The 14-by-14 room sits at the top of an 10′ tall tower and can accommodate up to four people. It is equipped with a bed platform for two, as well as a table and chairs, wood stove for heat and a propane camp stove and lanterns. Basic eating and cooking utensils are available and an outdoor toilet is provided. The lookout is built on a 10 foot tall tower, with narrow steps and catwalk. This may pose a hazard for children and pets. Guests are responsible for their own safety. A 30-inch catwalk surrounds the tower’s single, glass-paneled room. Guests may need to saw their own firewood from down and dead material surrounding the lookout, and a bow saw and axe are provided. Guests will need to bring their own water for drinking, cooking and cleaning purposes, as well as propane fuel canisters for cooking and lighting. Guests are also responsible for their own bedding, towels, soap, toilet paper and garbage bags. The facility does not provide trash receptacles; all garbage must be carried out, and the tower must be cleaned by guests prior to leaving. The tower is accessed by a moderate, 1.5-mile hike from the parking area. Snowmobiles and other off-road vehicles are not allowed on the trail, however, horses and other livestock are welcome. Guests are responsible for their own travel arrangements and safety, and must bring several of their own amenities.
The tower is situated east of the Bitterroot Valley, at an elevation of 7,115 feet. It was named for William McCart, who settled the area but failed to complete his homestead entry to patent. It is poised on the edge of the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness and offers beautiful views of the Pintler Mountains to the east and the Bitterroot Mountains to the west.
The Bitterroot forest is home to many species of wildlife, from mule deer, whitetail deer, elk, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, black bear, mountain lions, and moose, to many varieties of smaller animals and birds.
A variety of natural hot springs exist in the area, including the the Lost Trail Hot Springs, which is located about 13 miles northwest of the tower. It provides swimming and additional amenities, including a general store and lodging.