The highest peak in North Idaho is well worth the effort – even in early spring. The road into the trailhead was passable without 4WD. From Clark Fork, Trailhead 65 is 6.2 miles. The last section of the road (2.2 miles) is the muddiest. An early start is always best but Scotchman’s can be done in half a day if you are in shape. The trail is in excellent shape with only a few down tree that have to be skirted or climbed over. I found the going quick for the first hour (2100’ vertical). Then, at 5,300’, the snow became an impediment. It was not firm. The South Ridge – directly up, is the best option this time of the year. Otherwise, in the summer, stay on the established trail. The ridge is easy to follow as it gradually drops off on each side. Just stay in the middle and this will take you directly to the upper ridge at 6,400’. From here, the snow firmed up. Any previous traffic was obliterated by some new snow and high winds that sweep across the ridgeline. The views from the upper ridge are as good as any in the Cabinet Mountains. Stay slightly to the right side of the ridgeline and follow it all the way to the top. There are no goats this time of the year so enjoy the solitude. I made the summit without traction devices of snowshoes. The latter would have helped but weren’t necessary if you are willing to put up with a bit of post-holing.
A word of caution about parking at the trailhead. Unless you have a high clearance vehicle with big tires, don’t try to cross the creek. Just park on the uphill side and cross the creek by foot.
Photo #1 – looking at Scotchman’s 2 (in the distance) along the ridge.
Photo #2 – looking east from 6,800’