South Chilco Mountain Dayhike

Check it out Distance: 3-1/2 miles Difficulty: Moderate Hiking time: 2-3 hours Season: June through October Maps USGS Spades Mountain, Bayview, plus Coeur d’Alene National Forest map available from Fernan Ranger Station Info: Fernan Ranger Station, (208)769-3000

Hiking trip notes

Access: At Interstate 90 in Coeur d’Alene, head north toward Sandpoint on U.S. 95. From the intersection with Appleway Avenue, drive north 10-1/3 miles on Highway 95 and turn right (east) on Ohio Match Road (milepost 441.1).

Take mileage reading here and continue on Ohio Match Road, which is paved for 1-1/2 miles. At 3-2/3 miles, bear left at junction with Tree Farm Lane, cross cattle guard and continue on Forest Road 206.

At 7-1/2 miles, turn left (north) at T (near gauging station) onto Forest Road 437 along East Fork of Hayden Creek.

At 14-3/4 miles, go around sweeping left turn (past steel powerline tower), then make immediate left turn onto Forest Road 406, which leads nearly 1 mile to trailhead.

Attractions: Good close-to-civilization hike through thick forest to alpine meadows with excellent views. From trailhead at elev. 4,320 feet, route heads steadily uphill to South Chilco, elev. 5,661 feet. Yet-to-be-finished trail work moderating steep sections. Route offers possible extension to North Chilco for even better views.

Comments: No water available along trail. Route open to motorcycles, mountain bikes, horses and hikers.

From trailhead, walk uphill on Trail 14. Hikers soon see fruits of volunteer work beginning to re-route portions of trail with pleasant switchbacks.

Spur trail heads down to right (east) just below first of three summits that make up South Chilco Mountain. Middle summit, elev. 5,634 feet, former site of Forest Service fire lookout. Here one can see south to Spades Peak fire lookout; southwest to Hayden Lake; west to Mount Spokane; northeast toward Cabinet Mountains. Highest of South Chilco’s summits, elev. 5,661, mostly tree covered; views not as good.

If you haven’t had enough hiking, and if 1,340 feet of elevation gain has left your legs begging for more, continue north on Trail 14 for optional 6-mile-round-trip extension. (Pass steep unmaintained Trail 15 dropping off to west.). Soon Trail 14 drops more steeply for 720-foot descent in 1-3/4 miles to Chilco Saddle, elev. 4,941. Campsites but no water available here.

Then trail climbs 1-1/4 miles to open talus slopes and across west face of North Chilco. Spur trail leads to summit, elev. 5,635 feet, site of another former lookout site. Since peak is treeless, views are unobstructed in every direction. However, during late summer, when grass growers burn on Rathdrum Prairie, views can be obstructed.

South Chilco lookout built in 1915; abandoned in 1939. North Chilco lookout cabin and 40-foot tower built in 1948; dismantled in late 1950s. Trail 14 finally getting TLC from volunteers and Forest Service after decades of neglect.

Camping possible in saddle between North and South Chilco.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Map of area

The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = COLUMN - Routes: Classic Trips in the Inland Northwest

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Rich Landers

Rich Landers

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