Check it out Distance: 58 miles Difficulty: Moderate Riding time: 4-7 hours Season: Dec. through Feb. Maps: Wallace District Snowmobile Trails plus Superior Area Snowmobile Trails, both available from Forest Service offices below. Info: Wallace (Idaho) Ranger District (208) 752-1221 and Superior (Mont.) Ranger District (406) 822-4233.
Snowmobiling trip notes
Access: From Interstate 90 east of Wallace, Idaho, drive to Montana-Idaho border and take Exit 0. At stop sign, head south into parking lot for Lookout Pass Ski Area.
Attractions: Loop gives snowmobilers highs and lows of groomed trails on Idaho and Montana sides of Lookout Pass. Snowmobile rentals available at Lookout Pass, Idaho, or Lincoln’s 10,000 Silver Dollar Bar at Haugan, Mont. Tour offers plenty of play areas, scenic riding along St. Regis River. Food and gas stop at Haugan, plus warming shelter east of Mullan Pass.
Comments: Route begins elev. 4,725 feet at ski area parking lot. Ride west into Idaho on abandoned railroad grade that heads downhill paralleling I-90. Grade generally gentle, wide and smooth. Watch for wet areas where springs wash out snow about 3 miles down grade.
Grade virtually all downhill for 5 miles to junction with several roads. At this junction, take hard right to continue down railroad grade.
At 6-1/2 miles into route, grade passes under I-90. At 7-1/2 miles, leave railroad grade and turn right on wide, well-plowed dirt road toward Mullan Pass. (Note: Abandoned railway continues across road short way before trails bending left toward trailhead parking area at Shoshone Park.)
Road is plowed 1 mile before narrowing again to snowmobile trail that leads 5 miles up to Mullan Pass (12-1/2 miles into route).
Continue straight over pass, down and up again until trail seems to be heading into power line tower. Bear left and go down Ford Hill for couple of miles to substation road. Follow plowed road 3 miles to Taft Exit of Interstate 90. Go under highway and turn left onto trail leading 5 miles to Saltese.
Trail parallels I-90 and St. Regis River, but it’s the river that captures attention, especially on cold days when trees and brush smothered in frost and steam rises off clear stream.
At stop sign near Saltese, turn right onto plowed road, then take another sharp right under abandoned Milwaukee Railroad trestle. Trail loops up and goes across trestle heading east. Continue another 5 miles to Haugan, well marked with the sign for Lincoln’s 10,000 Silver Dollar Bar and Cafe.
At Haugan interchange, carefully drive on plowed road under I-90 to tourist facilities (30 miles into tour). High snow banks during winter can hide snowmobilers from motorists’ view. Drive slowly and cautiously. Complex at Lincoln’s has all services, including gas, food, groceries, lodging and snowmobile rentals.
To continue loop, drive behind cafe to RV camping signs, and head west through timber on trail paralleling I-90. Trail crosses plowed road and follows barbed-wire fence back into timber. Cross another plowed road, then head up toward Packer Creek at nearly 33 miles into route.
At 37 miles, route passes between several buildings before turning right onto marked Trail No. 3. Soon you’ll come to familiar power lines, which you’ll follow to trail junction at top of ridge. Turn left at junction toward giant steel power line tower to day-use warming shelter with outhouses, or continue straight and bear left to follow route back to plowed substation road. Look familiar?
Follow plowed road again 3 miles back to I-90 at trip mile 49. This time after going under highway, turn right toward Lookout Pass. Follow plowed road short way, but when road bears right, trial continues straight on railroad grade.
At junction, bear right on Norpac Road 4208. Go under I-90. Shortly you’ll go under again, returning to south side of highway. Continue straight on railroad grade. (Locals often go right on south side of I-90 onto more technical trail that eventually rejoins railroad grade.)
Guided tours and snowmobile rentals available from Bill Orton, Lookout Pass Snowmobile Tours, (208) 556-4402 or (208) 752-9401.
Grooming info: Idaho side, (208) 682-3814 or Wallace Chamber of Commerce (208) 752-1121. Montana side, (406) 678-4242.
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