Leaving Northport behind, the Pacific Northwest Trail crosses the Columbia River and begins a 48-mile westward course on Forest Service roads to the Kettle Crest Trail. This section passes through various burn areas, some more recent than others, where fireweed grows among the standing dead trees. Ponderosa pine trees become more common and the area takes on the drier, more exposed feel of a western landscape. Like the trail from Metaline Falls to Northport, the PNT passes by various old, decaying cabins and also a few that still offer a resting spot for weary hikers.
The main route picks the trail back up at the campground at Deer Creek Summit. Here the Kettle Crest Trail continues south over Profanity Peak and the taller Copper Butte, and it stays on a high ridge for approximately 12 miles to the junction with Highway 20.
Wildfires in 2015 impacted a major section of the PNT through Kettle Crest area. The main route that crosses the Kettle River and continues on the Kettle Crest Trail past Profanity Peak burned extensively, and the current trail was made unpassable. Forest Service crews are working to repair the trail in the area, but the trail has been diverted in this section south along the Kettle River to avoid the burned area for at least 2016. After a short jaunt on Highway 395 it continues west along forest road 6110 and picks back up with the Kettle Crest Trail a few miles north of Copper Butte.
The town of Republic lies on the intersection of Highway 20 and the less trafficked Highway 21. The PNT also intersects with both of these roads, but in places that are somewhat of a distance from Republic. From the junction of the trail with Highway 20 it is 17.4 miles of road travel to get to Republic. The trail junction with Highway 21 is only 10.5 miles from town. Between these two roads is 24 miles of trail. Note that the 99 miles listed for this section of the trail is for the points between Northport and where the PNT intersects with Highway 21.
Given the proximity of the junction with Highway 20 to the starting resupply at Northport and the fact that there is a good likelihood you may need to walk the full length of road to reach Republic, using the shorter 10.5 miles of road walking from the Highway 21 junction is probably a better place to make your way off the official route and into town. A third option, reaching Republic from where the trail again crosses Highway 20 at the Sweat Creek Campground, leaves only 8.5 miles of road walking, but it's another 25 miles on the trail before you reach this point.
Most thru-hikers choose to hitch into Republic. The small town has a charming look that hearkens back to an earlier era. Surrounded by national forests, the town's history tracks to logging and mining industries that operated when the earliest settlers reached the area. The town has a post office, a grocery store, restaurants, and hotels.
For additional details, refer to the following PNT sections: