Scotchman Peak Dayhike


Distance: 7 miles round trip

Difficulty: Difficult

Hiking time: 3-6 hours

Season: July through Oct.

Maps: USGS Scotchman Peak, Clark Fork plus Kaniksu National Forest

Info: Sandpoint Ranger District, (208) 263-5111


Access: From Sandpoint, drive 25 miles east on State Highway 200 to Clark Fork, Idaho. Turn north on Main Street, which is marked as national forest entrance. Go slightly more than 2-1/2 miles. (Note that after Main Street turns east, it becomes Forest Road 276.) At fork in road, turn right onto logging road following signs toward Trail No. 65. Continue 1 mile and turn left on Forest Road 2294A. Drive just less than 1/2 mile and turn left again. Follow this road as it winds through logging area for 2-1/8 miles. Turn left again and drive 1/8 mile to trailhead.

Attractions: Occasionally steep but direct route to one of Lake Pend Oreille region’s loftiest viewpoints at elevation 7,009 feet. Former site for fire lookout cabin. Summit offers views of Lake Pend Oreille to the south, Selkirk Crest to the west, Cabinet Mountains of Montana to the east. Fitness buffs will find pleasurable challenge in gaining 3,730 feet in less than 4 miles!

Comments: Weenies need not apply here. This trail best suited for mountaineers in training - and mountain goats. Strongly recommend drinking one quart of water before starting up trail.

First 1/2 mile heads heartlessly upward and out of logged valley. Trail then eases into more humane - but still steadily uphill - system of switchbacks.

Eventually, trail breaks into openings for ever-better views of Clark Fork Delta and steep slopes of Green Monarchs dropping into Lake Pend Oreille.

Route then traverses huge open hillsides smothered with beargrass, penstemon, sun-baked huckleberries, lupine and other wildflowers before ducking back into timber.

One decent campsite situated near timberline. However, no reliable water to be found on route. Snow banks sometimes found near top into August.

Trail near summit winds through blackened snags of small 1994 lightning fire, where route goes over rubble of flat platter-size rocks. Sandals not recommended. Summit-baggers couldn’t resist piling flat rocks to make shelter at top near remains of fire lookout abandoned in 1950s.

Remember, hiking down portions of this trail can be more painful than going up, especially if boots haven’t been fitted for ample toe room.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Map of Scotchman Peak Dayhike

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

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