Check it out
Distance: 6 miles
Skiing time: 2-5 hours
Season: Mid-Nov. through March
Maps: USGS Lookout Pass, also Lookout Pass Ski Trails, available from Superior Ranger Station
Info: Superior (Mont.) Ranger Station (406) 822-4233
Ski touring trip notes
Access: From Interstate 90 east of Wallace, Idaho, take Exit 0 at Montana-Idaho border. Turn south at stop sign, then bear right into parking lot for Lookout Pass Ski Area.
Attractions: Easy highway access to backcountry skiing on marked but ungroomed trails. Enough elevation for dependable snow. Option for one-way chairlift leading to big dose of downhill. Tour also offers peaceful moments along St. Regis River, plus food and services at Lookout Pass Ski Area.
Comments: Although skier traffic is common on route during weekends, trails aren’t groomed. Trail breaking can add time and difficulty.
Route offers several options. Let snow conditions and ability be your guide. If snow conditions wet or icy, novice skiers should avoid chairlift ride up Runt Mountain - downhill off back side of mountain can be difficult in cruddy snow. In that case, simply ski south from parking lot on road paralleling railroad grade to St. Regis River area, where terrain is more gentle.
In good snow conditions, buy one-time lift ticket at Lookout Pass ($2.50). Head west from top of lift to trail, which drops 1,010 feet in 1-1/3 miles from top of Runt Mountain to junction with trail along St. Regis River. Trail corridor on downhill gets narrow through trees - wild ride in good snow!
At junction, head west (right), paralleling St. Regis River upstream about 1/2 mile. Near avalanche warning sign, trail drops to left and crosses river before heading back downstream. Usually snow bridges can be found. Blue diamond markers on trees help mark trail.
NOTE: Skiers continuing upstream into St. Regis Basin should be familiar and equipped for avalanche hazard. Weekend avalanche forecast message, (208) 765-7323.
From river crossing, ski 1/2 mile to junction with trail leading to snowmobile route. Take this cut off for shortcut back to Lookout Pass. Or bear right, continuing nearly 1 mile to a different junction with snowmobile trail. Turn right on snowmobile trail and ski mile, then turn left onto ski trail that heads near abandoned Sildex Mine. Spur trail loops for two crossings of tiny Copper Gulch Creek.
Continue until trail joins unplowed road, then turn left. From here, route is gentle 2 miles uphill on unplowed road back to Lookout Pass. Depending on your outlook and snow conditions, this will be pleasant and fulfilling, or a slog.
Lookout Pass Ski Area has info on snow conditions, (208) 744-1301.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Map of Lookout Pass Ski Tour
The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = COLUMN - Routes: Classic Trips in the Inland Northwest