Selkirk Mountains Area

Harrison Lake
Distance: 8 miles roundtrip
Climb: gentle to moderately steep in places
Difficulty: moderate
Location: From downtown Bonners Ferry, locate Riverside Street and proceed west to the Kootenai Wildlife Refuge headquarters. Continue 1.5 miles and turn on Forest Road (FR) 663 leading through Myrtle Creek Canyon. After driving 10.5 miles, the road is renumbered to FR 633A. Proceed 2 more miles past the Two Mouths Trailhead where the road number changes to FR 661. Follow FR 661 1.5 miles and then turn right onto FR 2409. Continue 1.5 miles along FR 2409 to its dead end at the trailhead marked Harrison Lake 4, Trail No. 6.

Climbing 950 feet over the Myrtle Creek-Pack River Divide, hikers will make their way through continuous patches of huckleberry, currant, gooseberry, serviceberry, elderberry, and mountain sumac before reaching Harrison Lake. Surrounded by large slabs of white granite, Harrison Lake is situated in a cirque basin at an elevation of 6,182 feet. From the lake, hikers can view the hatchet-shaped Harrison Peak rising 7,292 feet in the Selkirk Mountain Range. While several campsites surround the lake’s east side, most are closed for revegetation. Hikers should also watch for bears, particularly in August when the huckleberries ripen. Best months for hiking are July through September.

Hidden Lake and Red Top Mountain
Distance: 6.5 miles roundtrip
Climb: gentle
Difficulty: moderate
Location: At Bonners Ferry, drive north on US Highway 95 to the junction of State Highway 1. Exiting onto Highway 1, proceed 1 mile, then bear left onto the paved side road. After reaching the Kootenai Valley floor, turn left and cross the Kootenai River. Continue west to the foot of the Selkirk Mountains and locate a T intersection in the road. Turn right onto Westside Road and follow for 9 miles to Smith Creek Road. Smith Creek Road climbs through Smith Creek Canyon and is paved for 6 miles. Once the road turns to gravel, it is renamed Forest Road (FR) 281. Proceed along FR 281 3 miles, then bear left and follow FR 665 for 2 miles. Next, drive up Beaver Creek Canyon on FR 2545 and continue 3 miles to the trailhead.

This non-motorized trail begins with a set of gentle switchbacks up a cirque wall, then passes through subalpine fir and spruce before reaching Hidden Lake in just one mile. Characterized by numerous huckleberry bushes and a tree-lined shore, Hidden Lake rests at the shoulder of Joe Peak and is rumored to hold abundant trout. Just prior to reaching the lake, the trail divides. While the right trail dead-ends at the shoreline, the left trail (Trail 102) continues eastward, crossing two streams and passing through a campsite. To reach Red Mountain, proceed uphill from the campground to your left on Trail 102. At the junction with Trail 21, continue left on Trail 102 through thick forests. Although the trail becomes faint, it is well cleared and leads directly to Red Top Mountain, named for the abundant red ripe huckleberry bushes dominating the landscape. At the summit, find impressive views of Joe Peak, the clear-cut border between the US and Canada, and numerous other peaks to the south at Smith Creek. From this point, hikers can turn around or continue 3 miles forward on Trail 102 that descends 2,400 feet to the upper portion of Smith Creek. Best months for hiking are late August to mid-September when there are few insects and foliage is in full bloom.

Optional Hikes: Instead of continuing on Trail 102 at the junction for Trail 21, proceed right along Trail 21. After following the trail 2 miles downhill, hikers will reach West Fork Cabin. Take Trail 347 at West Fork Cabin for a longer hike, ending at West Fork Smith Creek and West Fork Lake.

Long Canyon
Distance: 30 mile near loop
Climb: steep
Difficulty: very difficult
Usage: light
Location: Drive north from Bonners Ferry on US Highway 95, exiting onto State Highway 1. Proceed 1 mile on Highway 1, and then turn left onto a paved side road leading to the Kootenai Valley floor. From the floor, bear left, cross the Kootenai River, and proceed west to the base of the Selkirk Mountains. At the foot of the mountains, locate a T intersection in the road and turn right onto Westside Road. Continue 6.5 miles, crossing Parker and Long Canyon Creeks. In another 0.5 mile, locate a marked side road leading to Long Canyon Creek Trailhead/Trail 16.

For experienced hikers interested in a multi-day backpacking trip, Long Canyon provides exceptional wildlife viewing opportunities (including grizzly bears and woodland caribou), a rainforest, waterfalls, a trail flanked by two of Idaho’s tallest mountain peaks (Smith and Parker), and a ridge walk. However, backpackers should also be prepared for three difficult creek crossings, faint areas in the trail, limited water sources during the first and last five miles, and steep descents. After proceeding along Trail 16 for 12.5 miles, the trail fades out and Trail 7 begins, leading hikers across a creek and out of Long Canyon. Trail 7 climbs 2,400 feet in 4 miles to Pyramid Pass, but 0.5 mile below the pass, turn onto Trail 221. Trail 221 climbs to Long Mountain’s ridge, then follows the ridgeline to the hike’s end at Westside Road. As hikers descend from Long Mountain and reach the trip’s 20-mile mark, some may opt to veer left on a side trail that dead-ends in 500 feet at Parker Lake. Another side hike is found at mile mark 21.5 where backpackers can climb Parker Peak, the highest peak in the Selkirk Mountains. Best months for hiking are July through late September.

Salmo-Priest Divide Loop
Distance: 16 mile loop
Climb: moderate to steep in places
Difficulty: moderate
Usage: moderate
Location: From Metaline Falls, Washington, drive north on Washington Highway 6 for 1.5 miles. Bear right onto Pend Oreille County Road 9345 and continue to Forest Road (FR) 22. Turn left on FR 22 and drive to the junction with FR 2220. Bear left on FR 2220, which climbs up Deemer Creek to Salmo Pass. At the pass, turn right to reach the trailhead for Trail 506.

Beginning in Washington’s Salmo-Priest Wilderness, this hike through old-growth rain forest crosses over into Idaho after the first 5.5 miles. Hikers should note that Crutch Creek (just before crossing into Idaho) provides the last reliable water source before reaching the head of the South Salmo River. After entering Idaho, hikers will climb to Snowy Top Pass. Many hikers choose to take a three-hour side trip to climb Snowy Top for its views of the Selkirk Mountains in Idaho, Washington, and Canada. For those less adventurous, continue south along the trail that is now numbered Trail 512 and cross over the Shedroof Divide. After reaching Hughes Saddle, proceed 2.5 miles to the junction of Trail 535 that takes hikers back to the trailhead. Best months for hiking are mid-July through late September, and hikers should watch for black bears and grizzlies during August when huckleberries are ripe in the area.

Optional Hikes: After crossing over the Snowy Top Pass on Trail 512, Trail 349 veers to the left 0.4 miles past the slopes of Little Snowy Top Mountain. This 4.5-mile trail descends 3,400 feet to the upper Priest River and includes 70 switchbacks. Another side hike occurs at the junction for Trail 512 and Trail 535. Instead of immediately returning to the trailhead on Trail 535, explore Shedroof Divide by heading south on Trail 512 past Shedroof Mountain.

Two Mouths Lakes
Distance: 8 miles roundtrip
Climb: moderate
Difficulty: moderate
Usage: heavy
Location: Locate Riverside Street in downtown Bonners Ferry and continue west to the Kootenai Wildlife Refuge office. Passing the refuge’s headquarters, proceed 1.5 miles to Forest Road (FR) 663 leading into Myrtle Creek Canyon. In approximately 10.5 miles the road is renumbered FR 633A. Continue 2 miles to the Two Mouths Trailhead for Trail 268.

Hikers start out on an overgrown logging road and soon reach Peak Creek. As the trail heads along Peak Creek, it splits, and hikers should stay on the left trail. Winding along a granite mountainside, hikers climb to the top of Slide Creek and reach Selkirk Crest above Two Mouths Lakes. From the crest, views of glacier peaks surrounding Slide Creek are abundant, and a short descent leads to the lakes. While the left fork in the trail leads to the east lake, the right fork leads to the west lake following a spring-fed creek through a meadow lined with granite boulders. Best months for hiking are July through September.

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