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Idaho – Salmon Mountain 5August2017

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This is a delightful mile scenic hike to an active US Forest Service Lookout. The staff was very friendly and knew about ham radio. Views are spectacular unless you are there in the middle of an active fire season when smoke obscures the mountains. Getting there is over the better-maintained portion of the Magruder Corridor Road approximately 14 miles west of the Magruder Crossing. The lookout trail begins as an old road, but then transitions to a single-track trail through a very open grass/forb corridor, a snow glade, where deep winter snow drifts persist into the late spring growing season and prevent trees from growing. Steep mountain cliffs, cirques and mountain lakes are adjacent to the trail to the east.

The lookout is on a beautiful setting with 360 degrees of spectacular views when not covered in summer smoke. The views are classic of the Selway Bitterroot and Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness areas. The landscape sees periodic wildfire and old to recent fire patterns dominate the forest amount the rock summits. It is an area where the US Forest Service began in the earlier 1970s to allow fire its natural role in the forest. 

Trail Miles: 1

Elevation Gain: 700’

Water: None at the trailhead or along the trail

Map:  Bitterroot National Forest, Nez Perce National Forest

The Lookout outhouse is a couple hundred feet below in the protected of a line of trees, but due to strong prevailing winds is well cabled to anchor it upright, an interesting sight.  It is not uncommon to see big horn sheep, mountain goats and mule deer on the cliffs along the Magruder Corridor route. One might even be so lucky to see elk, black bear or wolf though these are generally on the upper slopes. Historically you are along the southern route of the Nez Perce Tribe on their way to and from Montana hunting and trading. Later the trail was a supply route for miners. The famous Magruder massacre occurred near here in 1863.

There are good areas to erect antennas and tree lines to shelter in if necessary. But do avoid the helicopter landing spot and surrounding area, just in case.