10 Lakes Scenic Area
Attraction: Short, easy hikes to multi-day trips in lake-studded proposed wilderness area.
Try this: 9-mile round-trip route from Little Therriault Lake to Wolverine Lakes, leads to alpine area at 7,300 feet and brings you back down gently.
Info: Kootenai National Forest, Murphy Lake Ranger Station, (406) 882-4451.
Attraction: Earn stunning views of the Salmo-Priest Wilderness and Idaho Selkirks from 6,323 feet at the former lookout site overlooking Sullivan Lake.
Try this: Since access to the shorter route closes today for the season, challenge yourself 3,200-feet of elevation gain in a 14-mile round-trip fitness test starting from Noisy Creek Campground trailhead.
Info: Colville National Forest, Sullivan Lake District, (509) 446-7500.
Attraction: Highest point in the proposed Scotchman Peaks Wilderness overlooking Lake Pend Oreille; good chance of seeing mountain goats.
Try this: Not for sissies, the 8-mile round trip starting near Clark Fork climbs 3,700 feet on switchbacks to the summit.
Info: Kaniksu National Forest, Sandpoint District, (208) 263-5111.
Attraction: From a trailhead off the Highway 9 pavement at Thompson Pass, gentle trails lead to secluded mountain lakes with overnight options.
Try this: Start with the gentle 6-mile round trip to lower Blossom and extend to tiny Pear Lake if you have the energy. Want more? The 4-mile round-trip to Revett Lake starts from the same trailhead.
Info: Lolo National Forest, Plains-Thompson Falls District, (406) 826-3821.
Pulaski Tunnel Trail
Attraction: Just a mile south of Wallace, a dozen interpretive signs tell story of heroism and survival en route to the mine where Ed Pulaski saved his crew from a 1910 fires blow-up.
Try this: From the trailhead on the road to Moon Pass, the well-designed trail, 4-miles round-trip, gains nearly 1,000 feet of elevation.
Info: Historic Wallace Chamber of Commerce, (208) 753-7151
Attraction: Fishing lakes, high mountain peaks, mountain goats and other critters in the Mallard-Larkins Pioneer Area, a gem of proposed wilderness between the St. Joe and Clearwater rivers.
Try this: The 7-mile trail into Mallard Lake has no demanding ups or downs. Camp there for side trips to nearby Fawn Lake and up to Mallard Peak lookout cabin.
Info: St. Joe National Forest, Avery office, (208) 245-4517.
Attraction: Easy access off I-90 at Mullan followed by a steady climb to a pair of timberline lakes under Stevens Peak, the area’s highest at 6,838 feet.
Try this: It’s uphill but less than 2 miles to the lower lake, so don’t stop there. Go the entire 2.5 miles to the upper lake (5 miles round trip). Then consider a scramble up to Stevens Peak for view.
Info: Coeur d’Alene National Forest, Silver Valley Office, (208) 783-2363.
Attraction: 70-mile high route with constant views from the Bitterroot Divide between Montana and Idaho, accessing dozens of mountain lakes.
Try this: Drive from I-90 at Superior, Mont, about 30 miles up Cedar Creek Road to Stateline Trail 738 and hike the 6 unforgettable miles to St. Joe Lake, source of the St. Joe River. Scramble up 7,690-foot Illinois Peak, highest named peak in the Idaho Panhandle.
Info: Lolo National Forest, Superior District, (406) 822-4233.
Attraction: Easy hike to good fishing and prime base camp for exploring the high point in the heart of the proposed Great Burn Wilderness.
Try this: Pry yourself away from world-class fishing in Kelly Creek and backpack the moderate 7 miles round trip from Blacklead Mountain to Goat Lake, a base for hikes to Williams Lakes and 7,930-foot Rhodes Peak.
Info: Clearwater National Forest, Powell District, (208) 942-3113.
Attraction: One of the most rugged and scenic portions of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, spiced with alpine lakes.
Try this: A challenging 13-mile round trip backpacking to Cove Lakes, where a rocky-ridge scrambler’s dreams will be realized.
Info: Nez Perce National Forest, Fenn Ranger Station, (208) 926-4250.