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Hiking into Goat Mountain

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One spectacular hike from the pages of "Trails of the Wild Cabinets"

This month, “Trails of the Wild Cabinets,” published by Keokee Books of Sandpoint, Idaho, will be re-released in a second edition that includes new hikes in the Cabinet Mountains by renowned area hiker Jim Mellen. Order your copy of the book online at www.sandpointgeneralstore.com or call 208-263-3573.

Until you get your copy, enjoy excerpts from the book in the River Journal.

Scotchman Peaks/Goat Mountain

Perhaps the wildest, most rugged terrain in the Cabinets outside the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness is the 88,000-acre proposed Scotchman Peaks Wilderness. Bounded by the Bull River, the Clark Fork River, and Lightning, Rattle and Keeler Creeks, two-thirds of this rugged and roadless area lies in Montana with the remaining one-third in Idaho. The Forest Service has managed this biologically diverse and pristine area as wilderness for more than 20 years, protecting the habitat for mountain goat, black and grizzly bears, elk, deer, and bull trout. The Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness is making great strides in the popular effort to extend permanent protection to this area. For more information, visit www.ScotchmanPeaks.org.

At the top of 6,167-foot Star Peak, you can discover an active forest fire lookout tower, spectacular vistas of the Clark Fork Valley and Lake Pend Oreille, and the only rock shelter in existence on the Kootenai National Forest built in 1908 by Forest Service Ranger Granville “Granny” Gordon. Five different trails access this rocky pinnacle. The lookout tower is typically manned during the summer for the purpose of spotting wildfires. Respect the privacy of the individual living there during those months.

Goat Mountain Trail No. 135

Destination:  Goat Mountain, 6,380 feet. Map, page 113.

USGS Map: Clark Fork, Scotchman Peak  GPS: N48 11 27.3 W116 09 29.7

Trailhead: On Highway 200 in downtown Clark Fork, Idaho, turn north by the Chevron Station onto Main and go 0.6 mile, turning left onto Lightning Creek Road. Go 3.1 miles to the trailhead.

Trail Length: 3.5 miles

Trail Condition: fair

Elevation Gain: 4,050 feet

Estimated Duration of Hike: 3 to 4 hours up, 2 to 3 hours down

Sweat Index: strenuous

Best Features: great views of Scotchman Peak, Blacktop Mountain, the West Cabinets and Lake Pend Oreille

Availability of Water Along the Trail: none

Stream Crossings: none

What is it like? This is one of the steepest trails in the region. This trail received some maintenance in 2007; however, it remains a rather primitive, seldom used trail. Hikers are quickly rewarded by fabulous views of Lake Pend Oreille. From the summit, the rugged northwest faces of Scotchman Peak and Blacktop Mountain stand out prominently. Hiking poles are recommended for this trail, since the steepness of the descent tends to be hard on the knees.

Camping: not really

Alternate Hikes: Adventurous hikers can venture off-trail to Scotchman Peak by dropping into the saddle to the southeast and then up to the west ridge of Scotchman.

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Author info

Dennis Nicholls Dennis Nicholls was the founder, publisher, janitor and paperboy of the River Journal from 1993 to 2001. He passed away in 2009.

Tagged as:

outdoors, hiking, Scotchman Peaks, Trails of the Wild Cabinets, Goat Mountain

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