Salmo River

Location: Eastern Washington
Trip Starts: USFS 2220
Trip Ends: USFS 2220
Total Distance: 4 miles
Hike Type: In & Out, Backtrack Hike
Hike Difficulty: Difficult
Trails Used: 506
Trail Traffic: Light to Moderate
Trip Type: Day or Overnight Hike
More Information:

Colville National Forest
Sullivan Lake Ranger District
12641 Sullivan Lake Road
Metaline Falls, WA 99153
(509) 446-7500


The Colville National Forest disproves the widely held notion that Washington State lies flat east of the Cascade Mountains. These million acres in the northeast corner roll like the high seas. Three waves of mountains run from north to south, separated by troughs of valleys. These ranges — the Okanogan, Kettle River, and Selkirk — are considered foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

The Salmo-Priest Wilderness offers a spot where hikers can see all kinds of wildlife and few people. Located on the wet, west slopes of the Selkirk Mountains, this wilderness contains huge old red cedar, Douglas fir, and western hemlock. Living in the old growth and in the meadows and crags above are grizzly and black bear, cougar, caribou, elk, deer, lynx, pine marten, and wolverine.

We hiked the Salmo Basin Trail and planned an 18 mile loop with the Salmo and Shedroof Divide Trails (which is called the Salmo Loop). The hike dips briefly into Idaho, and there is a fire tower at Little Snowy Top which makes a nice side hike. Unfortunately, the rains had their way with us, and we decided to cut the trip short. Regardless, this is a worthwhile backpacking trip for those that seek solitude, wildlife, and great views. Unfortunately, the rains had their way with us, and we decided to cut the trip short.

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