Clearwater National Forest Activity Guides:
Clearwater National Forest Trails:
Clearwater National Forest
Clearwater National Forest Overview
West of the Bitterroot Mountains, nestled in the north-central part of Idaho is the rugged Clearwater National Forest. Home to swift and clean rivers, massive wilderness, and some of the most important history of the American West, Clearwater also accommodates visitors seeking outdoor activity and enjoyment.
Clearwater's 1.8 million acres are slashed by the canyons of the Clearwater River, displaying an endless and magnificent landscape of mountains to the east and prairies to the west. Clearwater stands out for its incredible fishing and fierce whitewater rapids.
Fish the North Fork River
The North Fork River has long been a popular fishing spot. Fishers have traveled to this clean and swift-moving river specifically for the bounty of west slope cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, and whitefish. Flowing into the North Fork is Kelley Creek, which is likewise known for its "blue ribbon" fishing, particularly for the pursuit of trout. There are other similar rivers nearby that offer comparably fantastic fishing—the nearby Lochsa River and the Weitas, Cayuse, and White Sand Creeks.
Rough the Rapids of Lochsa River
Of the 63 white crested rapids in the area, over half are Class IV and V. The exhilaration continues for a thrilling 57 miles; however, it is not necessary to take it all in at once—the Lochsa River can easily be split up into four adventurous daylong sections.
Horseback the Giant White Pine Trail
Beginning in the Palouse Corridor are several horseback riding trails that roam through the hills and prairies of northwestern Idaho. Beneath cedar, grand fir, and western white pine, these trails run past waterfalls and toward more of Clearwater's great trout fishing.
Follow the Footsteps of Lewis and Clark
Almost 200 years ago, Lewis and Clark traveled to the western United States in search of new, promising discovery. When they reached Idaho in October of 1805, they were overwhelmed by its mountains and terrain, as well as the enormous supply of salmon in the Clearwater River. At Clearwater National Forest, it has been made easy for visitors to explore this land through hiking trails that climb Bitterroot ridges, descend through Lolo Creek canyon, and traverse prairies. Historical points along the way enrich the hike.
Ski the Palouse Divide
The heavy blanket of powdery snow that covers Clearwater during the winter months is perfectly conducive to prime skiing. Groomed downhill and cross-country ski trails are found at the North-South Bowl on the Palouse Divide, which can be accessed from Highway 6. Also available are many fabulous snowmobile trails in the Elk Creek Basin area.
Camp the Hidden Creek
Buried among the crisp scent of cedar trees, Hidden Creek Campground is located in the North Fork Clearwater River Corridor off Route 250. The area is characterized by its perpetual sounds of rushing water, its dense forest, and towering mountain peaks. Nearby activities include prize-winning trout fishing and whitewater floating. This rugged campground is also perfect for viewing the area's wildlife-elk, white-tailed and mule deer, black bear, mountain goat, and moose.
Bike Sand Mountain
This well-maintained trail passes through timber woodland and deep ridges to Sand Mountain, bringing you beneath Mica Mountain. As you continue, you will then return to the woodland, continuing upon a ridge until you reach a descent at Moose Creek. As well as providing a bracing adventure, this trail will treat you to a cornucopia of wildlife and flowers.
Drive along Lolo Motorway
Once traveled by both the Nez Perce and Lewis and Clark, the rocky Lolo Motorway, otherwise known as Forest Road 500, follows the western portion of the Bitterroot Divide. From the road you can roam through rustic forest, blazing summer wildflowers, flaming autumn foliage, and an ocean of white mountaintops. Respites along the way include campsites, historical sites, and hiking trails. Don't expect to find a gas station or water source, however.