The Clearwater & St. Joe
Located on Highway 12. Campground with no services. Historic Lochsa Ranger Station is 1 mile to the West. 25 miles West to Lowell, ID.
27 miles East to Highway 12 via Lolo Motor Way and FS 107 Rd.
5 miles South from Old Kelly Creek Work Center
60 miles east along North Fork Clearwater Road to Pierce, ID
ATV access via FS 297 Road.
25 miles East to Superior, MT
17 miles East to St. Regis, MT
Take Bullion Creek Rd East 6 miles for access to I-90
8 miles West on Interstate 90 to Wallace, ID
The Clearwater and St Joe Forests are wild in nature, if not in official designation. Though there are roads and other visitors, even the busiest trailheads can be upwards of 60 miles from the nearest town. The long hike up Kelly Creek, the North Fork of the Clearwater, is an absolutely gorgeous stroll through a roadless river canyon. Along the Idaho/Montana border, the Stateline Divide trail offers endless views of granite ridgelines and high mountain lakes.
The Stateline Divide consists of many miles of high and dry ridge walking, so make sure you monitor your water situation and stay on point. The ridgeline is also very exposed to weather—which can come in quick, bringing cold temperatures and limited visibility—so be sure to come prepared.
From Highway 12, the ICT takes the Sherman Creek Trail to the Lolo Motor Way at the summit. Following a few miles of road, the trail descends towards the confluence of Weitas and Windy Creeks. The trail heads upstream along Windy Creek through very heavy overgrown brush. At the ridgeline, the trail follows a well-maintained motorcycle trail North around Monroe Butte towards Lookout Mountain.
The official route going over Lookout Mountain has been abandoned and rerouted. The trail now heads West from Lookout Mountain, dropping down to Fourth of July Creek and then rejoining the official route at a saddle, North of Lookout Mountain. The reroute has water access, campsites, and clear trails.
Trail tread deteriorates as you make your way over switchback hill into an area that seems to be mostly maintained by horsepackers. At Scurvy Mountain, the restored Historic Mountain Lookout is 1 mile off trail and is available to be used as shelter (Water source on access road a few hundred feet North of the ICT).
Descending to the Old Kelly Creek Work Center at the confluence of Moose Creek and Kelly Creek, there is an active parking lot and trailhead. The old Kelly Creek Ranger Station is just across the bridge over Moose Creek.
Heading up Kelly Creek, some of the best miles of hiking on the ICT lay ahead. The river valley is beautiful and rich with forest and wildlife. The trails are generally well-cared for and clear. The official route follows an abandoned trail up Hansen Ridge which no longer exists. Alternatively, you can take the Bear Creek trail from the Outfitter Camp or continue up the Kelly Creek Trail to Kid Lake. Option two has better trail conditions, but is slightly longer.
Once gaining the ridgeline, the trail stays high and dips down to a succession of high mountain lakes. All are pristine and isolated except Fish Lake, which has ATV access and a campground. Check for a piped spring in one of the campsites next to the lakeshore. Access to Superior, MT from Hoodoo Pass is your only opportunity to resupply during this leg but hitching back out to the pass can be difficult.
After many miles of spectacular, ridgeline single-track, the trail joins a forest service road for a long stretch of road walking. Many logging roads intersect and confuse the right of way.
Rounding Stevens Peak, the trail alternates between single and double-track through areas where the tread is not always clear. After arriving at the access road at the North side of Stevens Peak, the trail makes its way down to the small town of Mullan. The way down is a tangled mess of open and closed logging roads. The correct way to get down is not clear. You will find yourself in a human game of Plinko as you descended, popping out either right in Mullan or towards Shoshone Park a few miles to the East.
Arriving in Mullan, there are a couple of restaurants and bars and a very cheap motel (The Lookout Motel), but little in the way of services. The town of Wallace, 8 miles to the West, has much more going on (Think microbreweries).