Added by Ashley Karsh
Satisfy both the history buff and trail lover with this beautiful trail lined with interpretive signs. Learn about a huge event in northwest history while enjoying a beautiful trail.
Just outside of the town of Wallace, this trail is made for both the hiker and history buff alike. In 1910, the Northwest was experiencing one of the worst droughts on record. Numerous small fires were burning across Montana, Idaho and Washington. However on August 20th, 80 mile per hour gale force winds whipped the fires into a frenzy. Hundreds of firefighters were now caught in the wilderness facing a raging fire. One of the stories to come out of the inferno was that of Ed Pulaski, a forest ranger who led his 46 men to a mine shaft to escape the oncoming fire. The trail is built to tell their story.
Starting at 2,920 feet in elevation, this two mile long trail winds alongside Placer Creek, gaining 800 feet in elevation before ending at the overlook of the Pulaski Tunnel. Parking space at the trailhead is somewhat limited, but there is space along the roadway. No parking permits are needed. The first 725 feet of the trail is paved and accessible, but then the trail starts to wind upward through a cedar grove and the footing gives way to a dirt/rock trail. Throughout the trail interpretive signs are placed to give context to the ordeal that Pulaski and his men went through. Continue to wind your way up, through some steep and then flat sections. The trail is marked every 1/4 mile, so you can easily keep track of how far you have left to go. At the end of the trail, you have an overlook of the tunnel that Pulaski ordered his men into, saving the lives of all but 6 of his men. A memorial to the lost firefighters is located there, along with the last of the interpretive signs. This makes for a nice place to stop, rest, and reflect. For me, it was amazing to view the surrounding lands, and picture what an escape down the mountain must have looked like for the men. They had to travel about 12 miles just to make it from the lines they were working to the mine shaft.
Once you are ready, the trail down to the parking lot is relatively easy, now you get to go down all the hills you just climbed. Whether you are a fan of northwest history or beautiful trails, the Pulaski Tunnel Trail is well worth the hike!
- Sturdy footwear
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