SCOTCHMAN PEAK TRAIL #65
Distance: 7 Miles
Difficulty: Moderate to Expert
Elevation Gain: 3,730
Dog Friendly: Yes
Pass Required: No
Getting There: From Sandpoint, ID, take SR 200 east to Clark Fork, Idaho. Turn north on Main Street in downtown Clark Fork after the Chevron Station. Main street becomes Mosquito Creek. After about 2.5 miles, turn right on Forest Road 2295 and continue about 1 mile. Turn left on road 2294 and watch for signs for Trail #65 in about 1 mile. The road ends at the trailhead.
Tips: Bring enough water to get you to the top and back! Hungry? Plenty of places for a picnic along the way. Just remember - pack it in, pack it out. You may also want to bring binoculars for all those summit and mountain goat views.
I've been wanting to conquer the notorious Scotchman Peak for a long time now. But weather or injury has always hindered my plans. With my dad and I training for the Xterra Smokechaser in Priest Lake next month we decided taking on this grand-daddy of hikes (yes this is what locals have dubbed it) would be great preparation.
Let's just say the five mile race we were preparing for is going to be a walk in the park in comparison.
Be prepared for some MASSIVE elevation gain. I'm talking 1,000 feet a mile. The switchbacks make it bearable but for the novice hiker be prepared...it's going to take you some time to reach the top. We decided to break at every switchback. The first couple miles lead you through dense forest and then you reach a clearing of what's called "the meadows." Here you will start dealing with the trail fading in and out of slate rock until it becomes a scramble the last half mile to the summit.
Take a moment to enjoy the views of the surrounding Scotchman Wilderness and Lake Pend Oreille in the distance.
A note to the wise...the mountain goats aren't only found at the summit. We started finding their fur right at the meadows and encountered a total of eight on our journey. Including a mother with her kid. Also please be respectful of these majestic creatures. This is THEIR territory you are intruding on. You are a guest in THEIR home. Do not approach them. Do not try to feed them. Do not let them lick you. A couple years ago an over-zealous hiker ended up being injured by an aggressive goat after not following those simple rules. The trail was closed for over six months.
After over four hours of strenuous hiking my Dad, my dog and I made it to the summit. All the sweat, all the leg cramps, all of it was worth it at that moment. We celebrated with some trail mix and photos at the top, added our own rocks to the old fire lookout and carved our names in a rock with a rusty nail.
Shout out to my Dad for accomplishing something he wasn't sure he could. And he KILLED that mountain. So did my little dog.
A man we passed on the way down looked at her and said, "Wait....that little thing made it all the way to the top?"
You better believe she did. Don't judge a book by it's cover. Between my extra cushion, my Dad's age and my pup's size you'd never expect we'd conquer what we did. It just goes to show you can do anything you set your mind to.
Mr. Scotchman....thank you for the challenge.