Proposed Great Burn Wilderness Area Hikes

Goat Lake
Distance: 11 miles roundtrip
Climb: gradual to moderate in places
Difficulty: moderate
Usage: light
Location: Drive 164 miles east on US Highway 12 from Lewiston to Forest Road (FR) 569 (Parachute Hill Road). Proceed north 2.7 miles on FR 569 to a three-way fork, and continue on the middle road 1.7 miles until reaching another fork. Keeping left at this fork, drive 1.6 miles to Powell Junction and merge onto FR 500. After passing Papoose Saddle, proceed an additional 11.5 miles to Cayuse Junction and bear right onto FR 581. Follow FR 581 8.2 miles to the unmarked right turn leading to Blacklead Mountain. Turn off here and proceed 0.5 mile, parking at the first trailhead in the area. From here, walk on this jeep road the final 0.75 miles to the desired trailhead for Trail 508. Do not take Deer Creek Trail 513 which leads to the north, but instead proceed on the unmarked Trail 315 leading east (right). Trail users should note that the 28-mile dirt/gravel road leading to the trailhead often requires four-wheel drive as well as a 4 to 5 hour drive.

While traveling to the trailhead, backpackers will drive along a portion of the Lolo Indian Trail that Lewis and Clark used in 1805 and 1806 to traverse these Idaho mountains. At the trailhead, the Goat Lake Trail quickly descends over several switchbacks into a meadow lined with lodgepoles, and in 1.5 miles, the trail splits. Staying to the left, hikers face two stream crossings before reaching Goat Lake. Surrounded by a 1,000-foot cirque wall, Goat Lake offers visitors fishing opportunities as well as views of nearby Williams Peak and Rhodes Peak. From Goat Lake, hikers can opt to head back to the trailhead or proceed on to numerous other lakes, Cayuse Creek, and eventually the Bitterroot Divide. Best months for hiking are mid-July through mid-September.

Steep Lakes Loop
Distance: 22 miles
Climb: moderate
Difficulty: moderately difficult
Usage: light
Location: Located 150 miles east of Lewiston, access is easiest from Superior, Montana. From this town, drive west on Forest Road (FR) 250 over Hoodoo Pass to the junction of Long Creek and Lake Creek. At the junction, proceed 7 miles on FR 295 to a barrier near Siam Creek and locate the Lake Creek Trailhead for Trail 419. ATV’s and motorcycles are allowed on the first five miles of this trail, so hikers should use caution.

After hiking 3 miles along Trail 419 through a narrow canyon, hikers reach a junction where Trail 419 becomes Trail 478. Continuing 2 miles to Fish Lake, locate Stateline Trail 738 directly beyond Fish Lake. Now crossing from Montana into Idaho, this ridgeline trail follows the Bitterroot Divide and provides excellent views of more than twenty alpine lakes, as well as possible encounters with elk, moose, deer, and wolves. To reach these lakes, hikers will have to do some off-trail exploring, and camping in the area also requires climbing down off the ridge each night. Proceeding along the trail, hikers will pass Goose Lake, Siamese Lakes, Straight Lake, and eventually reach the steep ascent over rugged cliffs surrounding Steep Lakes. Lower Steep Lake is known for the rare California golden trout, and the fish limit here is two. After enjoying Steep Lakes, continue on Trail 738 past Goose Lake and locate the junction for Goose Creek Trail 414. Continue on Trail 414 to the Goose Creek Trailhead, and then walk 4 miles along FR to reach your car at the Lake Creek Trailhead. Hikers should use precaution while traveling along the ridgeline as dangerous summer thunderstorms occur and there is no water on top of the divide. Best month for hiking is August as hikers will encounter snowdrifts in early July and September weather is generally cold.

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