Scotchman Peak Hike - Mountain Goats in Idaho's Rugged and Remote Cabinet Mountains
Share the summit of Scotchman Peak with mountain goats and possibly a "Friend of Scotchman Peak Wilderness."
Oreamnos americanus near Scotchman Peak, Cabinet Mountains
Location: Kaniksu National Forest - Cabinet Mountains, Idaho Panhandle
Distance: 7.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,696 feet
Lat/Long: Trailhead: 48.1644° N, 116.0984°W Scotchman Peak: 48.8888° N, 116.0818 ° WHigh Point: 7,009 feet
Low Point: 3,313 feet
Difficulty: Strenuous Class 1: gain roughly 1,000 feet of elevation per mile.
Trail: #65 Out and back; trail easy to follow initially dirt, then talus
Maps: USGS Quad - Clark Fork, "Idaho Panhandle National Forest - Kaniksu National Forest"
Date Hiked: 7/5/2019
Considerations: Dogs should be on leash due to presence of mountain goats on summit. Keep a distance from the goats and do not feed them (signs posted by USFS).
Driving Directions: Distance from Sandpoint: 31.6 miles. From Sandpoint, Idaho take Hwy. 200 east 25 miles to Clark Fork; take Main Street north (Chevron station), which turns into a gravel road called Mosquito Creek Road. Continue for 2.5 miles, bearing left at a fork on the way, then turn right onto FR-2294 (it is signed for trail #65). Continue for a mile, then turn left onto FR-2294A (also signed for #65). After half a mile turn left (signed) and continue for another mile. The trailhead is to the left (signed) down a short spur road. There is plenty of parking. It is a total of 6.3 miles from Hwy. 200.
Rock near summit is siltite (altered siltstone or mudstone) and argyllite (lithified muds) - sedimentary in origin
Each summer reminds me that Idaho is an extraordinary place with so much beauty to witness, so many peaks to hike, so many clear streams to walk in. And wildlife; on Scotchman Peak in North Idaho's Kaniksu National Forest. we saw a family of mountain goats including two kids in their rugged and steep habitat. This steep hike ascending about 1,000 feet every mile begins in tall pines with an understory filled with lilies and bear grass, has beautiful views of Lake Pend Oreille, the largest Idaho lake and fifth deepest in the nation, and ends in the scattered shale and rugged views of the Cabinet Mountains and remote Yaak country in northwestern Montana.
After hiking a little over a mile through towering trees, views open to look upon expansive Lake Pend Oreille as the trail passes through a huge meadow gaining the ridge. Just when you thought you saw the best view of the lake, another turn of the switchback offers a better one.
As expected, because of the concern and history of human and mountain goat encounters, a large yellow sign at the entrance to the open talus slopes indicates you are entering mountain goat habitat, with a rock-strewn false summit in view. As if to welcome, two goats skirted us on our entry into the open slopes. Once over the false summit, Scotchman Peak comes into view as rugged canyons drop below, at the end of the steep and layered rock ridge. More goats appeared, but kept their distance.
A volunteer "greeter" from Friends of Scotchman Peak Wilderness, an organization with the goal of saving this wilderness for future generations, greeted us as we ascended the easily accessible peak. This organization has been working on getting this area designated as wilderness; voters from Bonner County in which this area resides voted against such a designation. Although the volunteer was pleasant, her "educating" us on consideration of the mountain goats was unnecessary: the signs at trailhead and mid-mountain are adequate. We go to summits to be awed, to revel in the peace and beauty that not many get to see, not to have someone tell us how to behave on a mountain top. Trust the summit seeker, they will learn from the signs and behave accordingly.
Mountain goats are in the family Bovidae, which also includes antelope and cattle. Across the summit, on a tall precipice were a nanny and her two kids. She quickly gathered them and moved on as we approached the summit. The view is memorable, with the huge, deep blue Lake Pend Oreille in its Missoula Flood-scoured valley to the west, and to glacial-cut and jagged peaks to the north. The combination of the lake, goats and rows of mountain ranges make this an extraordinary hike.
We continued on the ridge past Scotchman, but hiking became precarious as the ridge narrowed and drop-offs became intimidating. On our return to the trailhead, we saw a fair number of people coming up clearly working hard on the steep ascent, and clearly happy to be in that special place. One more Idaho summit climbed and the feeling that we are some of the luckiest people on this Earth to be able to explore this beautiful state.
Lake Pend Oreille - west of Scotchman Peak
Sandpoint on north shore, Clark Fork on east shore.
Largest Idaho lake and fifth deepest in the nation.
First mile of trail to Scotchman Peak through dry forest gains ridge for ever-increasing views of Lake Pend Oreille
Sego Lilly - Calochortus nuttallii
The bulbous roots were ground by Native Americans into a starchy meal.
Mormon pioneers also used this plant as a source of food.
The hike is steep in parts!
Upon entering the talus slopes of mountain goat habitat - we were greeted shortly after this sign by two goats
Heading toward false summit - Scotchman Peak and incredible 360-degree view seen at the top of this
Scotchman Peak summit - 7,009 feet
Looking southwest toward the Coeure D' Alene Forest
Billy watching over his two kids and waiting for them to catch up
May be Rocky Ledge Penstemon - Penstemon ellipticus
Near the summit of Scotchman Peak - Lake Pend Oreille to the west
Sue and Fred - another great adventure for the books - Life is Good!
Montana Cabinet Mountains on horizon
On the way down: parting shot of this beautiful forest
Elevation profile: Almost a 4,000-foot gain including recovering from lost elevation on the way up, over 3.7 miles
Trail climbs to ridge and stays on it to the summit.
Geologic Map of the Scotchman Peak Quadrangle, Bonner County, Idaho
USDA - Idaho Panhandle National Forests - Sego Lily. https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/ipnf/learning/?cid=fsm9_019206
7/29/2019 04:15:24 pm
Another great post with fabulous facts and photos. Scotchman's Peak is on my list. Maybe next summer.
Yes, Linda, you bring up a good point! Sometimes I take for granted that everyone else walking up and down a trail has the same reverence and respect that you and I do for the wilderness, and not-so-wild places like our national parks, etc. And for the most part they do - it's just a few people who don't heed signs. And yes, Fred and I have a lot of backcountry experience and I forget that we had to learn years ago backcountry etiquette. So, we should be grateful that people care and are willing to give some of their time to protect and educate.
8/6/2019 02:32:18 am
Scotchman Peak is something that you want to reach once you are in Idaho. Well, all peaks can offer you an breathtaking view, but I can feel that Scotchman Peak will give us different feels when we are on the top already. Actually, it has been years since the last time I climbed a mountain and I totally miss the feeling! Hopefully, the next climb I will be making will be as memorable as my first time because I am pretty sure it would be something memorable that I can never forget! Thanks for introducing the place to us.
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Sue and Fred
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Exploration documentaries – "explorumentaries" list trip stats and highlights of each hike or bike ride, often with some interesting history or geology. Years ago, I wrote these for friends and family to let them know what my husband, Fred and I were up to on weekends, and also to showcase the incredible land of the west.
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