Wild Horse Trail Scenic Byway

The Wild Horse Trail Scenic Byway, part of the International Selkirk Loop, starts on the northwestern shores of Lake Pend Oreille in the resort community of Sandpoint. Heading north along the eastern side of the Selkirk Mountains, the roadway follows the Kootenai Tribe’s historic path to fishing grounds at Lake Pend Oreille. In 1808, the first white explorer David Thompson also utilized this trail. The “Wild Horse Trail” became more than a path in 1863 when gold was discovered in “Wild Horse Creek,” 120 miles to the north of Bonners Ferry, Idaho in British Columbia. There was a large movement of men and pack animals along the “Wild Horse Trail” until the gold rush ceased circa 1880. Upon arrival of the Northern Pacific Railroad to this region, David Thompson’s old route became a main freight line for the railroad.

Just south of Bonners Ferry a stunning wide glacial valley comes into view. The rich soil deposits left behind as the glaciers receded formed fertile lands which even today support a wide variety of agriculture throughout the Kootenai Valley.

In 1864 Edwin Bonner created a ferry crossing the Kootenai River to accommodate gold seekers as they made their way north, leading to the formal establishment of Bonners Ferry in 1893. Historic buildings in the downtown district remain today, reminding visitors of bygone eras.

The byway begins on US 95 in downtown Sandpoint and follows it north through Bonners Ferry to the junction of US 95 and Idaho 1, then proceeds north on Idaho 1 to the Canadian border at Porthill. US 95 is predominantly a two-lane road with four lanes starting two miles north of Sandpoint for five miles. There are a few passing lanes. The byway can be seen year-round, and activities and events are available each month. Fall colors are especially dramatic. Travelers should allow at least 1.5 hours for the 48.2 mile trip from Sandpoint to the junction of US 95/Idaho 1 and the 11 mile trip to the International Border at Porthill.

Reprinted from Idaho Department of Transportation Brochure

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