We drove to the trailhead for Caribou Lake by taking the Pack River Road west to Caribou Creek Road (No. 2684). Drive just more than 4 miles and then bear left for the final 2.5 miles which were fairly rough. The elevation here is 4,270 feet and the lake is 5,192 feet. The hike to the lake is uneventful and follows an old logging road that’s also used by horses and ATVs though we didn’t see anyone. The guidebooks say that it’s a mile to the lake but we found it’s a bit longer.
The real work to make the summit of Mt. Casey begins after you leave the easy trail to the lake. And I must warn you; this is not for the faint of heart as there are no real trails. You cannot see Mt. Casey from the lake but you can see Keokee Mountain (6,448’) to the southeast. Follow faint trails along the shoreline to the east and up the obvious ridge. Your goal is to keep close to this ridge and keep ascending as you get above the lake. The difficulty has to do with the alders that impede progress and require plenty of bushwhacking. Look for open rock outcroppings to avoid as much as possible but be forewarned, no amount of expert route-finding will give you a clear shot at the ridge. If you persevere, you will reach the top of the ridge and find the going gets easier. A first glimpse of Mt. Casey then begins to open up. Follow this ridge to the top and circle around it in an obvious westerly direction.
The ridge is fairly easy but you must still wind in and out of smaller pines, over boulders, and in our case, snow. From the top of the ridge to the summit is about 45 minutes. Mt. Casey is the highest peak in the southern part of the U.S. Selkirk Range and from the summit you can look south to Schweitzer Mountain, north toward Kent Peak and down to the west toward Priest Lake.
It is possible to do Mt. Casey and Keokee Mountain in one day but expect it to be frustrating because of the bushwhacking. If you wear shorts, your legs will get beat up. Although we enjoyed views from the top of Casey, we’ve been on better summits in the Selkirks. The mileage from the TH to the summit and back is 8.0 miles with 2,436 feet of gain. There are a few ups and downs so expect this to be more like 2,700 feet. But the distance and elevation do not accurately portray the effort you will put in. If you go, expect typically great Selkirk views in all directions.
Landon on the Mt. Casey Summit
Don and Cathy at Caribou Lake
The reflective waters of Caribou Lake
Mt. Casey from the first view along the ridge-line.