Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
3,664.00 ft (1,116.79 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
7.90 mi (12.71 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Scotchman Peak is a 7.9-mile, round-trip trail located only 5.5 miles northeast of Clark Fork, Idaho, in the Kaniksu National Forest and less than 15 minutes from the Idaho/Montana border. This peak provides panoramic views of the surrounding mountain ranges. To the east of the summit, there is a sweeping view into Montana and the Cabinet Mountain Range. To the north, the view is of the Selkirk Mountain Range that stretches into British Columbia. And to the south is the vast blue expanse of the Lake Pend Oreille.

The trail begins in dense forest typical of many hikes in Northern Idaho, complete with red fir, spruce, and the occasional ponderosa pine. The incline is steep and immediate with consistent switchbacks climbing up the mountainside. Be aware that you will be gaining over 1,000 feet per mile in elevation on this climb, so extra water and snacks are highly encouraged. This section of the trail offers very few vantages of the lake to the south, but for the most part the view won't open up until you are above treeline.

In the mid- to late summer, this section of trail is abundant with mountain huckleberries, with bushes growing right alongside the path. The forested area is only occasionally interrupted by sparse sections of burnt forest recovering from a previous wildfire. This is the smoothest length of trail on the hike; as you leave the forested area, the trail gradually gets rockier.

Around 3 miles in, the treeline fades and transforms into a sub-alpine meadow with the trail making long switchbacks up the mountainside. In the late spring, this meadow is colored with various wildflowers. This provides your first viewpoint east into Montana and an improved view south over the lake. This section of the trail quickly ends as you approach the peak. At this point, the trail becomes a rocky scramble. You won't need to watch for cairns or anything like that; although rocky, the trail is still very clear and easy to follow.

Once you've reached this point, it is less than a mile to the summit, which should be clearly visible from here on. The jagged west face of the peak should be on the direct left of the trail. From this point on, it is important that you are wary of goats, as they are frequently spotted from this point to the peak itself. This is the most strenuous section of the climb due to the rocky terrain, so be cautious on this final ascent. In addition to the incredible panoramic views the summit provides, there are also the remnants of an old fire lookout and of course a plethora of mountain goats. Although many hikers report spotting the mountain goat directly on the summit, it is encouraged that you bring a pair of binoculars as the goats frequently rest on jagged edges along the cliffsides. Remember to follow trail regulations. Respect for the mountain goat is what keeps this trail accessible to the public and ensures the goat's survival.

To get to the trailhead from Clark Fork, take Main Street northeast until it becomes Mosquito Creek Road (Forest Road 276). From here continue straight for 2.5 miles until you reach Forest Road 2295. After turning right onto Forest Road 2295, continue for 1.1 miles until you arrive at another junction. At this junction, take a left onto Forest Road 2294, at which point the road markers should also indicate that you are heading toward trail 65 (Scotchman Peak Trail). The road from here ends at the trailhead, which has a couple of port-a-potties and a bulletin board with current trail information. Scotchman Peak is home to a family of mountain goats, so please review regulations when it comes to interaction with the goat. Trail officials prefer that you stay at least 100 feet from the mountain goat and refrain letting them lick the sweat off of you or your pack.

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Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Wildlife viewing. Panoramic views of surrounding mountain ranges.

Cons

Bugs at the summit.

Trailhead Elevation

3,345.00 ft (1,019.56 m)

Highest point

7,009.00 ft (2,136.34 m)

Features

Vault toilet
Wildlife
Big vistas
Big Game Watching
Wildflowers

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

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