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Salmo-Priest Loop

Eastern Washington

Location

Eastern Washington -- Selkirk Range
View map below

Length

19.0 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 3400 ft.
Highest Point: 6480 ft.

Rating

3.44 out of 5

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WTA worked here: 2020
 

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

None
 
 

Hike into the heart of Colville's Salmo-Priest Wilderness - so remote that even grizzly bears have been spotted here. This is high country, with some of the most impressive old-growth stands this side of the Cascades. You'll wander through old-growth cedar, moss and ferns. In spring, the hillsides abound with a frenzy of wildflowers. But the vistas are pure Inland Northwest - vast views of the Selkirks and the Upper Priest River Valley are what hikers can expect along this 19-mile loop.

Take two or three days to hike this, enjoying the glorious scenery. And there are great opportunities for wandering -- take a sidetrip and touch your toe into Canada. Scramble up Snowy Top Mountain. Climb to the Little Snowy Top lookout. Hiking clockwise is recommended.

The trail immediately gets down to the business of going down - about 1800 feet in three miles - to the South Salmo River. Cross the river, taking a right (at the unmaintained trail to Canada) and follow the river upstream. As you walk in this forested river valley, the flora may make you think you're actually in the Cascades to the west - old-growth cedar and hemlock tower above you, and an understory of ferns and moss carpet the ground around you.

Just before you pass into Idaho (yes, Idaho!), there will be a spur trail on the right to an excellent campsite near the Old Salmo Cabin, an old trapper's cabin set into the wilderness. Water is available here -- replenish your supply, or think about making this your spot to spend a night before continuing on your way.

Another 3.5 miles of steady climbing takes you to Snowy Top Pass. another good campsite and water can be found just before entering the pass. Take advantage of this one, and don't expect many (if any) water sources for the next seven miles after. Snowy Top Mountain (7572 feet) will lure scramblers, while those who opt to stay on trail will delight in the views that the Shedroof Divide has to offer in this section. You'll get to wander along here for seven fabulous miles. About 1.5 miles after reaching the divide, you'll pass a one mile spur trail to the Little Snowy Top Lookout, which is open to the public. Dip off the main trail and visit the lookout site for even more fantastic views.

About 2.5 miles after the spur for Little Snow Top Lookout, you will see a fork in the trail with one direction labeled Shedroof Mountain, heading to the northeast. Take that trail back and down to continue along Shedroof Divide.

Alas, you cannot stay atop the Shedroof Divide forever. Shortly after passing back into Washington, you'll have to turn right off the Divide and take Trail 535 the final three miles to the trailhead.

 

Salmo-Priest Loop

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 48.9586, -117.0775 Open map in new window

Trailhead

Eastern Washington -- Selkirk Range

Salmo Basin (#506), Shedroof (#512), Salmo Divide (#535)

Colville National Forest, Sullivan Lake Ranger District

See weather forecast

Guidebooks & Maps

100 Hikes in the Inland Northwest (Rich Landers) - Mountaineers Books

USGS Salmo Mountain

Continental Mountain

Getting There

From Metaline Falls, WA drive north on State Highway 31 about 2 miles past the Pend Oreille River Road Bridge and turn right toward Sullivan Lake. From Sullivan Lake, drive east on Forest Road 22 about 6 miles to the junction with Pass Creek Pass Road. Continue left on Road 2220 toward Salmo Mountain. Drive 13 miles to the trailhead.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

None
 

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Salmo-Priest Loop

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