Trails and Landmarks

Here you will find trail access directions and things to see in the Cube Iron/Cataract Roadless Areas.

Some notes to the user:

*Our current maps are prototypes. These maps are meant to show the user landmarks and trails in the Cube Iron-Cataract Roadless Areas. IT IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that the user obtain an actual National Forest District Map from The Plains/Thompson Falls Ranger District  or The Cabinet Ranger District to get actual mileage, topography, and water resources. This brochure is meant to get the user to the access points of the roadless areas and accompany your journey through this back country area.

*The user should be aware this is Grizzly Bear country.

*The user should have adequate supplies including the proper gear and plenty of water. The Cube Iron/Cataract Roadless Areas are unique because of the back-country connectivity it provides over such a large area.

*PACK IT IN AND PACK IT OUT!!! Please be respectful users of the woods. It is your responsibility to use Leave No Trace practices in backcountry. Any questions about leaving no trace, visit here: 7 principles of “leave no trace”

*PLEASE, BE CAUTIOUS WITH FIRE. The forest deserves the utmost care and respect.

Fires must be put out, cool to the touch. If you have any questions about dealing with campfires, check out the Center for Outdoor Ethics page: Minimizing Campfire Impacts

*If you are interested in seeing attractions in the area, please click here or follow the links. There are directions to the attractions in the landmarks menu.

*All directions having a starting point of Thompson Falls.

final large.jpg
Please the key (below) on how to use this map. You can also download a map here.

Key:

Trails: Specific routes of choice are presented in this map. Each colored number (i.e. 4) corresponds to that route, some routes will connect with other routes, we’ve done our best to show that.

Landmarks: Each landmark is marked with a corresponding colored letter (i.e. A).

Campgrounds: Campgrounds can be found below. The most accessible campgrounds are the ones right off of Thompson River Rd. All campgrounds have normal amenities. Click on the links for access and information.

*There is plentiful opportunities for car camping, also. 

Vermilion River Access (Kootenai National Forest):
Willow Creek Campground

Thompson River Access (Lolo National Forest):
Clark Memorial Campground
*there is a grove of old growth cedar trees in this spot (I)
Copper King Campground
West Fork Fishtrap Campground
Fishtrap Lake Campground

Lookouts and Guard Stations: (for rental)
Bend Guard Station
Cougar Peak Lookout

*There are also a lot of good spots do to some good car camping.

Waterfalls: 
There are 2 prominent waterfalls in the area. Both of these areas can be accessed by very short hikes. We have marked the directions with the corresponding letters to verify waterfalls access. 


Vermilion Falls: The falls can be accessed by Blue Slide Road and any hike up the Vermilion River drainage. On Vermilion River Rd (Rd #154), go to mile marker 11. Half way past that to mile marker 12, you will see a sign and a turnout for the trails to the falls.

E Graves Creek Falls: The falls are accessed by all Graves Creed Rd hikes. For directions and description, please go here: Graves Creek Falls information.

Easy Routes:

*All of the easy hikes are located in Thompson Falls. These trails include:

  • Thompson Falls Community Trails: Several easy, paved trails that run along the Clark Fork River. Several loop trails and the new river trail that connects Thompson Falls with Thompson Falls State Park.
  • Historic High Bridge and Island Park Trails: Historic trail across the historic High Bridge that connects with Island Park and the Thompson Falls fish ladder.
  • Mule Pasture Trail: A gently rolling 2.5 mile, forested trail less than a half mile from town.

For directions and length of trails, please go to The Thompson Falls Community Trails webpage for more information.

Thompson Falls Trails

Moderate Routes:

There are multiple ways to access the CIC area and all routes below are arranged by their access points. Please use our brochure and a good Forest Service map with these directions to accompany you on your journey. There is generally some good pull over spots to car camp along the way on many of these routes. Please pack it in and pack out and be good stewards to the woods.

Thompson River Access:

1, Cabin Lake Trailhead (#459): This is a easy pretty popular and easy hike to get to. Take Highway 200 around 5 miles east of Thompson Falls, turn left (northeast) onto Thompson River Rd and go about 6 miles to the West Fork Thompson River Road (Rd #603). Follow the road about 8 miles to the trailhead. When you get to the end of the road, take the trail on the right. Once at Cabin Lake, you can take trail #460 to Cube Iron Pass via the Four Lakes Trail, this loop will take you back to the #459 trailhead.

cabin lake.jpg
Cabin Lake by Terry Glase

A more detailed description with photos: Cabin Lake Hike

Distance:8 miles round trip
Water:some run off and water at the lake
Camping: Yes, at the lake
Condition: good

1,G Four Lakes Trailhead (#460): A popular loop connecting to the previously listed trail. Take Highway 200 around 5 miles east of Thompson Falls, turn left (northeast) onto Thompson River Rd and go about 6 miles to the West Fork Thompson River Road (Rd #603). Follow the road about 8 miles to the trailhead. When you get to the end of the road, take the trail on the left. This 2.5 mile hike, will take you to Cube Iron Pass, you can then make the other 2.5 miles to Cabin Lake and back to the trailhead via a loop.

Distance: 8 miles round tripS
Water: at various stream crossings
Condition:good

Big Spruce Creek Trail (#1102): Take Highway 200 around 5 miles east of Thompson Falls, turn left (northeast) onto Thompson River Rd and go about 6 miles to the West Fork Thompson River Road (#603). Follow the road for 4 miles and look for the trailhead where Big Spruce Creek comes down the mountain, the trail is marked.

Distance: 3 miles to Arrowhead Lake and 4.5 miles to the Cabin Lake/Cube Iron trail
Water: along the trail and at the lake
Camping: spots at Arrowhead Lake
Condition: fair

DSC_0139
Duckhead Lake

Honeymoon Lake Trail (#469):Take Highway 200 around 5 miles east of Thompson Falls, turn left (northeast) onto Thompson River Rd and go about 6 miles to the West Fork Thompson River Road (Rd #603). Follow the road for 2 miles and turn west onto Honeymoon Creek Rd (#7657) and then it’s about a mile to the trailhead.

Distance: 6 miles round trip to Deer Lake
Water: along the trail and at the lake
Camping: spots at Deer Lake
Condition: fair

5 Goat Lakes Trail (#478): Take Highway 200 around 5 miles east of Thompson Falls, turn left (northeast) onto Thompson River Rd and go about 6 miles to the West Fork Thompson River Road (Rd #603). Go about 2 miles and make a left on Rd #7657. Follow this road until you get to the trailhead at the end, about 10 miles. There are several, easily accessible lakes.

Distance:  2 miles roundtrip
Water: at the lakes
Camping: spots at Goat Lakes
Condition: good

F Terrace Lake Trail (#102): About 5 miles east of Thompson Falls, turn north onto Thompson River Rd (#603) and head north for about 15.3 and make a left on Fishtrap Creek Road (#516). Continue about 4 miles to West Fork Fishtrap Creek Road (#7688) and make a left. Drive for another 4 miles or until you get to the end of the road where the trailhead is located. A little further, you can see where the old road kept going a bit longer. There is an old, unkempt trail that used to run to Marmot Peak from here.

terrace lake
Terrace Lake from Terry Glase

Distance: about 5 miles round trip
Water: along the trail and at the lake
Camping: not ideal
Condition: good

Stony Lake:*Along the way to Terrace Lake, you will find the road to Stony Lake (#7675), about 2 miles from where you turned off from. This lake is drivable up a 2.5 mile steep dirt road.

Graves Creek Access:

E Vermillion Pass to Mount Headley (#528): About a mile west of Thompson Falls, turn off of Highway 200 and on to Blueslide Rd. Follow Blueslide Rd for about 7 miles to Graves Creek Rd (#367) all the way up to Vermillion Pass. At the top of the pass, there is a parking lot and a trailhead to the right (east). The trailhead starts as a road, but eventually gets narrower for about a half mile before the actual trail starts. You can see into Image Lake basin and the headwaters of the Vermilion River from here.

Hike and Pictures: Mount Headley

Distance: about 4 miles
Water: none, there is a trail sign
Condition: good

Cougar Peak Look Out (by foot via Graves Creek/Vermillion Pass Access #529 to #541):

About a mile west of Thompson Falls, turn off of Highway 200 and on to Blueslide Rd. Follow Blueslide Rd for about 7 miles to Graves Creek Rd (#367) all the way up to Vermillion Pass (10.5 miles). At the top of the pass, there is a parking lot and a trailhead to the left (west). This trail is an old gated road and will take you to Seven Point Mountain.

From this point, you will hike about 2 miles where you will come to the confluence of trail #541. This trail goes for about 4 miles and has limited water resources. The hike will take you to the backside of the Cougar Peak Lookout.

You can currently rent Cougar Peak Lookout and find more information by going here.

cougarpeak2009
Cougar Peak Lookout

Distance: about 4 miles
Water: maybe a few random small springs, but consider it nothing
Condition: generally good; since the Moose Peak fire it’s condition is unknown

*Driving directions to Cougar Peak Lookout: About a mile west of Thompson Falls, turn off of Highway 200 and on to Blueslide Rd and drive for 7.3 miles. You will then come to NF road #403. Turn on this road and drive for about 14.7 miles up a 9steep and windy road until the end where you will come to the lookout.

Vermillion River Access:

Water Hill (#845): Heading west out of Thompson Falls (towards Trout Creek; 34 miles), turn right onto Blue Slide Rd and follow it 4 miles to Vermilion River Rd (#154). *For a scenic, slower route, a mile out of Thompson Falls, make a right onto Blue Slide Rd. Follow Blue Slide for 27.5 miles until you see the signs for Vermilion River Rd (#154). From the west, you will need to cross Vermilion Bay. At the east end of the reservoir, there is a sign for the trailhead.

Distance: 12 miles one way
Water: not a single drop
Condition: poor

Strenuous Routes:

There are multiple ways to access the CIC area and all routes below are arranged by their access points. Please use our brochure and a good Forest Service map with these directions to accompany you on your journey. There is generally some good pull over spots to car camp along the way on many of these routes. Please pack it in and pack out and be good stewards to the woods.

 Thompson Falls Access:

Weber Gulch to Mount Silcox (#450): In town (at Town Pump), head straight up Preston Ave. (follow the signs to the Forest Service Work Station), go several blocks, turn left on Ferry Street.  From here, uphill for several blocks, turn left on Fourth, go 2 blocks and turn right on Columbia. Columbia treads west a bit and eventually straightens out (before the Work Center). From here, go 2 miles to the Weber Gulch Trailhead (the directions are clearly marked). The trailhead is off of a spur road that cuts to the east and goes north. The trail starts as a stem and splits to the north and the west. The Mount Silcox trailhead goes to the north.

 

DSC_0162
Big Spring (with its saw cut watering trough) is the only watering whole over a long stretch.

Distance: 5 miles one way
Water: none
Condition: fair

3 Weber Gulch to Cube Iron Mountain (#450): In town (at Town Pump), head straight up Preston Ave. (follow the signs to the Forest Service Work Station), go several blocks, turn left on Ferry Street.  From here, uphill for several blocks, turn left on Fourth, go 2 blocks and turn right on Columbia. Columbia treads west a bit and eventually straightens out (before the Work Center). From here, go 2 miles to the Weber Gulch Trailhead (the directions are clearly marked). The trailhead is off of a spur road that cuts to the east and goes north.

This trail begins pretty flat for about 2 miles and then follows Squaw Creek for about 2 miles where it begins its gut wrenching ascent for the remainder of the way.

Distance: 7 miles one way
Water: none after leaving Squaw Creek
Condition: good

Vermilion River Access:

A,C,Cataract Creek Trail to Seven Point Mountain (#847): Heading west out of Thompson Falls (towards Trout Creek; 34 miles), turn right onto Blue Slide Rd and follow it 4 miles to Vermilion River Rd (#154). *For a scenic, slower route, a mile out of Thompson Falls, make a right onto Blue Slide Rd. Follow Blue Slide for 27.5 miles until you see the signs for Vermilion River Rd (#154), make a right. Follow the road for 5 miles and you will find the trailhead on the right.

*You will have to cross Vermilion River to access the trail beyond the road.

The Seven Point Genetical Research Natural Area lies within this area.
7 rna
Here is a map of the Seven Point Genetical Research Natural Area. The area contains a viable stand of whitebark pine. This stand is an historic representation of the species for western Montana and northern Idaho. The site is used for collecting seed for a breeding program to determine genetic resistance of the species to white pine blister rust. It is not known if these trees contain any rust resistance, but they are alive and well, while many of the stands in the area have been killed by the rust. The stands are generally located above 5,800 feet elevation. This site is approximately 1,991 acres.
bear lake
Bear Lake in the Seven Point Genetical Natural Research Area (courtesy Andrew Klaus)
w pine cat 2
Old Growth White Pine

Distance: 7 miles one way
Water: along the creek
Condition: good

Graves Creek Access:

E Winniemuck Trail(#506): About a mile west of Thompson Falls, turn off of Highway 200 and on to Blueslide Rd. Follow Blueslide Rd for about 7 miles to Graves Creek Rd (#367). Turn onto Graves Creek Rd and take it 2 miles to the trailhead, which is on your right. It will be the trailhead right across the bridge where Graves Creek first flows under a bridge.

Distance: 6 miles one way
Water: along the creek and at the lake
Camping: spots at the lake
Condition:
fair

E, 1 Vermilion Pass to Seven Point Trailhead (#528):

Vermillion Pass to Seven Point Mountain-About a mile west of Thompson Falls, turn off of Highway 200 and on to Blueslide Rd. Follow Blueslide Rd for about 7 miles to Graves Creek Rd (#367) all the way up to Vermillion Pass (10.5 miles). At the top of the pass, there is a parking lot and a trailhead to the left (west). This trail is an old gated road and will take you to Seven Point Mountain.

Distance: 7 miles
Water: none
Condition:fair

Thompson River Access:

H Sundance Ridge Trailhead (#433) to Priscilla Peak (and Priscilla Peak Lookout):

About 5 miles east of Thompson Falls, turn north onto Thompson River Rd (#603) and head north for about 9 miles where the trailhead awaits on the left side of the road. The Lookout is 4 miles straight up the trail. 

5
Priscilla Peak Lookout

 

For more information on the lookout, please go here.
For our recent “short cut” exploration trip, please check out our blog, here.
For a detailed description, please go here.

Distance: 4 miles
Water: a spring a mile past the lookout
Condition: fair

Three Long Ridge Trails:

Thompson River Access:

 *It is not advised for anyone to hike the following routes unless they know what the heck they are doing. The user can refer back to the previous trail listings and various maps to plan their journey. 

Sundance Ridge (#433) to Cataract Creek (#847) Trailhead:

Sundance Ridge Trailhead (#433) to Priscilla Peak (and Priscilla Peak Lookout).

About 5 miles east of Thompson Falls, turn north onto Thompson River Rd (#603) and head north for about 9 miles where the trailhead awaits on the left side of the road.

Take this trail 14 miles to Mt.Headley. Mt.Headley to Vermilion Pass is 4 miles. From Vermilion Pass to Seven Point Mountain is 6 miles and from Seven Point Mountain to Cataract Creek Trailhead is the last 7.5 miles.

Distance: 40 miles
Water: various points along the way, water near Marmot Peak is unknown
Condition: poor to fair to good

Vermillion River Access:

*This trail is just the prior one reversed.

1 Cataract Creek (#847) to Sundance Ridge (#433):

Vermilion Pass to Seven Point Mountain-Heading west out of Thompson Falls (towards Trout Creek; 34 miles), turn right onto Blue Slide Rd and follow it 4 miles to Vermilion River Rd (#154). *For a scenic, slower route, a mile out of Thompson Falls, make a right onto Blue Slide Rd. Follow Blue Slide for 27.5 miles until you see the signs for Vermilion River Rd (#154), make a right. Follow the road for 5 miles and you will find the trailhead on the right.

The trailhead to Seven Point Mountain is 7.5 miles. You will then need to take Seven Point Mountain to Vermilion Pass (6 miles), Vermilion Pass to Mt.Headley (4 miles), Mt.Headley to Priscilla Peak is another 14 miles.

*You will have to cross Vermilion River to access the trail beyond the road when you first start.

Distance: about 40 miles
Water: various points along the way, water near Marmot Peak is not known
Condition: poor to fair to good

Thompson Falls Access:

2 Weber Gulch to 1 Mount Silcox (#450) to Cataract Creek (#847): Mount Silcox route-In town (at Town Pump), head straight up Preston Ave. (follow the signs to the Forest Service Work Station), go several blocks, turn left on Ferry Street.  From here, uphill for several blocks, turn left on Fourth, go 2 blocks and turn right on Columbia. Columbia treads west a bit and eventually straightens out (before the Work Center). From here, go 2 miles to the Weber Gulch Trailhead (the directions are clearly marked). The trailhead is off of a spur road that cuts to the north.

*You can also take trail #520 for 7 miles up through Squaw Creek and it connects to trail #450 above Cube Iron Mountain. This route is longer, but it has some of the most wild places left in the CIC area. There are beautiful waterfalls and an abundance of wildlife.

From here, take this trail 5 miles up to Cube Iron Mountain. From there, take Cabin Lake Trail (#450) 5 miles to Mt.Headly and head west (on trail #528) to Vermilion Pass. From here, take Vermilion Pass to Seven Point Mountain and Seven Point Mountain to Vermilion River via the Cataract Creek Trailhead.

Distance: 45 miles
Water: not until you get up to the lakes and Big Spring
Condition: fair to good

Weber Gulch to Cube Iron Mountain (#450) to Sundance Ridge Trailhead (#433):

Cube Iron Mountain Route:-In town (at Town Pump), head straight up Preston Ave. (follow the signs to the Forest Service Work Station), go several blocks, turn left on Ferry Street.  From here, uphill for several blocks, turn left on Fourth, go 2 blocks and turn right on Columbia. Columbia treads west a bit and eventually straightens out (before the Work Center). From here, go 2 miles to the Weber Gulch Trailhead (the directions are clearly marked). The trailhead is off of a spur road that cuts to the north.

*You can also take trail #520 for 7 miles up through Squaw Creek and it connects to trail #450 above Cube Iron Mountain. This route is longer, but it has some of the most wild places left in the CCIC area. There are beautiful waterfalls and an abundance of wildlife.

From here, take this trail 5 miles up to Cube Iron Mountain. From there, take Cabin Lake Trail (#450) 5 miles to Mt.Headley and then head 4 miles to Marmot Peak and keep heading out to Priscilla Peak (another 6 miles) and then the last 4 miles down to Thompson River Road. The Sundance Ridge Trailhead is 9 miles up Thompson River Road and 5 miles back Thompson Falls via Highway 200.

Distance: 36 miles
Water: at various points
Condition: fair to good

Enjoying one of the many beautiful places in the CIC area

 

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close