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Northern Idaho hiking trails and winter activities recommendations?


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I recently landed a job in Moscow ID, looks like I'm going to be closer to the mountains (Hooray)! Anybody know some good hiking trails around northern Idaho?

I'm moving from FL to ID, very excited and nervous about the harsh winter up north. Any winter outdoor activities I can do over there? Reccomdations are much appreciated:) 

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Mark Wetherington

Congrats on the job and especially the location! I've never been to Moscow, but have passed near there on various backpacking trips to Idaho and Washington (I live in western Montana). It is located near some great hiking/backpacking destinations and I am sure there are plenty of trails close to town that you will discover when you arrive. There looks to be the St. Joe National Forest nearby which should have some trails.

As far as places I would recommend going to that I have actually been, here are a few. I'm mostly a backpacker, but most of these places would good options for dayhikes if you car camp.

- Palouse Falls, WA: Two hour drive to an incredible waterfall in arid eastern Washington. Really impressive. Unfortunately, there aren't too many trails right around there other than the waterfall and it does get crowded but it is a "must see" landscape feature. The campground there is tiny and not very appealing, but the sunsets are stunning.

- Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness, WA: Two hour drive to an uncrowded wilderness area that has plenty of trails (although some are fairly rugged and faint, especially those through areas recently burned by forest fires). Really nice wildflowers in early summer and great views from some of the ridges.

- Salmo-Priest Wilderness, WA/ID: Around 4 hours up here but it is a really neat and uncrowded wilderness area with some huge old growth cedar trees near the South Fork Salmo River. Trails are usually in decent shape and it can be a good place to hike in late June. 

- Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, ID: 2.5-3+ hour drives will take you to trailheads in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness (I mostly backpack on the Montana side but have done several trips in Idaho) which has a lifetime of trails. Conditions can vary a bit from trail to trail but generally are pretty decent. So much to explore here -- mountain lakes, waterfalls, hot springs -- definitely a great place to go for an extended trip.

- Pasayten Wilderness, WA: Close to a 5 hour drive to the Iron Gate Trailhead, but from there you are only a few miles from the absolutely sublime beauty of Horseshoe Basin. From there you can walk up several summits or continue on 15+ miles to Cathedral Pass and Cathedral Lake, which is beautiful. You also pass by the old Tungsten Mine which has two old buildings that are still standing.

There are so many other places to go in north Idaho and Washington, you're in a great place -- I'd recommend checking some hiking guidebooks for Washington and Idaho out from the library when you get in to town.

As far as winter activities go, cross-country skiing is a lot of fun and definitely something to look in to as well as snowshoeing. Also not a bad idea to plan a trip or two in the middle of winter to a warmer and sunnier destination for hiking or backpacking or just hanging out on the beach. Winters can get long this far north and it's nice to have a break and something to look forward to.

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  • 1 year later...

The Panhandle is full of trails and few visitors, especially in winter.  You can snowshoe, x-c ski and mush dogs to your hearts content.  There are some decent downhill ski areas around. 

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