Added by Mark Nelson
Get away from the crowds on this ridge-hugging 7.1-mile hike to the historic Lolo Motorway.
It's always (for me anyway) a good sign when the parking area at a trailhead is devoid of any other vehicles. Such was the case at the Sherman Creek Trailhead in the Clearwater National Forest in west-central Idaho.
This trail begins just north of US-12, where Sherman Creek starts emptying into the Lochsa River. (This will come in handy at the end of the hike for a quick, refreshing dip). While the trail's name would make you think that you're going to be straddling the creek the entire way - oh, how wrong you'd be. The trail immediately ascends a ridge, taking you far above Sherman Creek - though you can usually hear it splashing down in the valley below.
With a trail width of about 1 foot the whole way (maybe 1.5 feet at its widest), you have to watch your step as you chug up, up and up with a drop off on one side for nearly the entire 7.1 miles.
Some amateur bushwhacking skills will be helpful as the trail is not exactly super-maintained. But, that is kind of a good thing as you really feel like you're entering an untamed wilderness with gorgeous wildflowers of yellow, red, purple and white lining both sides and plenty of silky spider webs to walk through.
At various points, you'll come to a clearing which offers spectacular views of the mountains and valley below.
You'll have to take special care at multiple spots as several other small streams make their way across the trail from higher elevations and, depending on recent weather, can make for some slippery/muddy conditions. A walking pole or stick would be recommended.
Near the end of the hike you'll cross over Sherman Creek and after another mile enter No-see-um Meadow - a nice little clearing at nearly 6,000 feet elevation. The trail starts at 2,100 feet, so the 3,700-foot elevation gain makes for a 3-hour hike one way (if you're a young buck of a hiker).
You can choose to camp at No-see-um Meadow or continue about 200 yards farther to the historic Lolo Motorway. The Lolo Motorway is an ancient path (now converted into a 4x4 road) that the Nez Perce people used to trade with their Salish sisters and brothers in what is now Montana.
Where you come out onto the road there is a sign that says "No-see-um Meadow" and just across the road is a campground with a fire ring and much to my surprise - a nice stock of pre-cut wood! Make camp and enjoy the solitude!
Getting there: From the town of Kooskia, ID, travel east on US-12 for 48 miles to milepost 122.5 (you'll see signs for Sherman Creek Trail #203). From Missoula, MT, travel west on US-12 for 95 miles until you see the turn off.
- Study shoes
- Camping gear
- DEET free mosquito repellent
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