Above: The Selkirk Mountains in Idaho. Photo by Eric Wollborg.
Selkirk Mountains, Section 3
From the fertile Kootenai River Valley the trail climbs over the offbeat Selkirk Mountains. This lesser-known granitic range offers the most rugged terrain found on the PNT. Challenging scrambling, solitude, and a slim chance to spot the extant woodland caribou all reward visitors to the Selkirk Range. These public lands are also home to a variety of seldom seen species like the wolverine, lynx, and gray wolf.
Perched atop Lookout Mountain, high above Priest Lake, sits one of the last operating fire lookouts in the Northwest, and lucky hikers might be invited up to enjoy the view from the tower.
Other highlights include the lush temperate rainforest along the Idaho-Washington border, the furthest inland rainforest in North America. On Abercrombie Mountain, the highest point in the section, the PNT offers sweeping views of Eastern Washington and subalpine meadows dotted with purple lupine, indian paintbrush, and other vibrant wildflowers.
Bonners Ferry, ID to Northport, WA
143 mi (230 km)
Highest Point: 7,308’ primary route
Elevation Gain/ Loss: +23,280’ / -21,520’
- Selkirk Crest
- Lookout Mountain LO
- Rare wildlife: grizzlies, caribou, and lynx
- Hike across the ID-WA state line
- Upper Priest Lake
- Abercrombie Mountain
- Old growth forests
- Temperate rainforest
Today, the PNT offers an experience that may be more challenging and rugged than it will be a generation from now. Until then, making the effort to be fully prepared for an adventure on the PNT is key to having a safe and enjoyable trip.
The weather and climate across the trail corridor can vary greatly by geographic area, elevation, and season. The major mountain ranges of the PNT create rain shadows. This effect creates drier and warmer east sides, that can approach desert-like climates, and much cooler and wetter west sides that include rain forests.
“Against the Grain” is the unofficial slogan of the PNT, with good reason. This rugged, 1,200 mile route climbs over seven mountain ranges and it presents some unique challenges along the way. For those uncomfortable with hazardous situations, there are many trails on the PNT that are accessible to a wide range of visitors.
The Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail travels through many different public and private lands. You can help to protect our natural resources, and the quality of the experience. Respect private property and learn the regulations of the area you are visiting.
The PNT travels through some of our wildest public lands. These special places are home to animals iconic of wilderness, and species found nowhere else. By following the regulations of our National Parks and National Forests, you can help keep wildlife wild and the backcountry safe on the PNT.
Getting to and from the Pacific Northwest Trail is part of the adventure – America’s wildest National Scenic trail is located in some of the most remote mountain ranges of the Northwest and logistics are part of the challenge.
A visit to the undiscovered communities of the Northwest is a fun part of any trip on the PNT. From rugged mountain towns, to historic seaside cities, the diverse communities visited by the trail provide a peek into the lifestyles unique to the Northwest.