Explore the most popular hiking trails in Kaniksu National Forest with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

1 day ago

Did this hike and Estelle Lake today. There was a little packed snow and mud on trail but easy to reach both lakes. Beautiful hikes. We did see a bear as we where pulling out of the trail head parking area so be prepared.

As others have said, this trail is a workout. I'm 37 and in pretty good hiking shape and I found it difficult but I was also pushing my pace quite a bit. However, I met a couple of ladies in their mid 70s who were approaching the summit, so with determination and pacing, anyone can do this. There is still heavy snow on the upper 1/4 of the trail. It won't likely be gone until August. But I was easily able to follow the footprints over the snow to stay on course. The views are spectacular on a clear day. Some of the best you can find around here. Absolutely worth the effort.

14 days ago

May 31st:

Seven of us made it about 3/4 the way up before - tired and wreaking of fat guy - four of our weaker men called it quits and prematurely cracked victory beers. We remaining three trekked the last quarter, where snow still lie, until we valiantly conquered the beast. We may have lost the trail a time or two through the remains of winter, but at the peak, eight wise mountain goats helped to celebrate our accomplishment.

We later found the four weak men wreaking of fat guy, and now alcohol, at a local pub. We only wonder why they couldn't make it.

Strenuous with beautiful view as your reward. I’m in my early 30s and in moderate shape, and it was a challenge during the initial switchbacks and a little painful on my knees in the way down. Pack some food and water and enjoy your day on this trail!

19 days ago

Very beautiful trail and great scenic views! walking to the lake is worth it because of the views, not so much the lake. I recommend bringing extra shoes!

20 days ago

Great hike but a little early on day 2 of June. There was 5 creek crossings and just one I had to remove the boots and socks being around knee deep in freezing run off :) glad I brought my poles. Nice single trek trail with sun and shade couple of Cedar Groves blow downs, thorns, brush, snow just about everything you would want in a good hike and some great scenery. In places on the last leg before the lake the snow is still a few feet deep and just a little clearing at the lake ( beginning of the creek ) No other people it was great!

22 days ago

A few of us hiked up here last Thursday, 5/24. The bottom 3/4 of the trail was great. The top 1/4 was still covered in snow. Because of the snow, it was impossible to stay on the trail. Luckily a couple of us had been there before, so we knew where the trail led & we still made it to the top. The trail is steep even if there was no snow to worry about. The snow made it interesting & made the destination that much more satisfying. There were no goats to be found when we reached the peak, but it was still worth every bit of work. 10/10 would recommend this hike

Lovely hike. Strenuous, but not particularly technical. Trail was obvious until I hit a good bit of snow 3/4 of a mile from the end. Will definitely do again later in Summer.

27 days ago

I tried to do this hike today. The road is still snowed over about 9 miles from the trail head. I'd give this another 2-3 weeks before trying.

1 month ago

Favorite hike ever.

great hike..very difficult for someone not in good shape. half way up about 2ft + snow and the trail very narrow with little foot traffic. views are completely worth it. We took longer with more breaks and hiked out in complete dark..not recommended! we saw no animals but lots if tracks. hiking poles a must..the road to get to the trail not great, pot holes, lots of limbs down and icy..

Great hike was expecting a tougher hike, so I was very happy...
Unfortunately I went two weekends in a row 10/1 & 10/8 and didn't get a view at the top due to fog and clouds. The views heading up are amazing. Incredibly rewarding. Both hikes were at sunrise. Recommend afternoon arrival at the summit. Bring a heavy coat it's cold at the top.

7 months ago

Very cool hike

8 months ago

Must do hike!! Trail is well maintained! Trail is steep and some hikers may find it challenging. The beauty distracts though. Don't let this stop you, just plan on extra time.
Near the top (last 1000' roughly) the nice dirt changes to large fist sized rocks. It's not technical, but does require extra attention to not roll an ankle.
We hiked October 2, 2017: light sprinkle as we started from the trail head. This turned to snow at 5000', and started sticking at 6000'. By 6500' there was 1"-2" on the ground. At the peak our visibility was roughly 100'. Just enough to appreciate the steep slope on all sides. We also saw two mountain goats; a mother, and a kid.
Note: the getting there directions on AllTrails blow. Look up proper directions from Friends of Scotchman Peak and save your self some headache.

8 months ago

Welp, with a 35lb pack this trail up to the peak should be rated no less than difficult; without the pack, yeah, probably moderate but it's still fairly steep.

The trail is well maintained and simple to follow to the summit. After climbing to the ridge the trail mellows substantially until you reach the Engle Lake spur. From that intersection with the spur trail the peak lies another mile away with another 1,000 of elevation to gain.

We made the summit but the weather blew in as we drew within 500' of the peak and closed down the views. The wind was wickedly bitter so we only stayed atop for less than 10 minutes before JoRayne and I completed our day with a descent to the lake where we pitched camp for the night.

The campsite was nice. The weather not so much: rain, snain, fog, and wind. We stayed dry though and hiked out in the morning over the 1"+ of new snow.

We have to return to get our pics from the top but next trip we'll tackle in one day!

on Engle Peak Trail

8 months ago

The lake was beautiful! We made it to the top of Engle Peak but missed out on the views due to fog. Good tough hike :)

The views are beautiful and the goats are really cool. I am glad I did this one.

8 months ago

My GPS recorded our journey on this trail (#924) at 10.06 miles from the Mckay Creek Rd. TH to the lake campsite. A demanding 20 miles round trip. The NFS sign at the TH claims it's 9 miles to Wanless Lake.

The first 2.35 miles will have your heart pumping and then the slope moderates from that point to about the 4 mile mark. From there to Goat Peak and the Ntl Forest boundary for Kanisku and Kootenai (6.6 miles) the trail slope and features are varied. With a 35lb pack and snow coming into play at 5200 ft, reaching a depth of ~6" at 6400 ft, JoRayne and I were on the trail for 7.5 hrs. About an hour of that time was for breaks.

Once we arrived at Goat Peak we considered climbing the rocky monster but the snow covered slope, mostly boulders and loose rock, would have made the attempt for the summit treacherous so we pushed on toward Wanless Lake.

We wandered down the snow covered trail to the upper lake and beyond; along the way seeing various animal paw (cat and Bear) and hoof (Moose and deer) prints in the snow. A bear also left its partially digested meal on the trail for us to see...croiky! One enormous windfall tree blocked the trail just short of the camp sites.

The lake was calm and the surrounding mountains make you feel really small. We had the place to ourselves and the night was peaceful and dry.

**We did not have access to water until we dropped into the canyon from Goat Peak ridge.

on Wanless Lake

8 months ago

Great first back packing trip! Beautiful views at the top, hard climb but great trail!

Great trail! Not for those who do not hike on a regular basis. It is all up hill then all downhill. (The next day it's the downhill that you will feel the most.)
The trail is well groomed and easy to follow. Please use proper trail edict and give the right of way to those going up.
The view at the top is magnificent, and the chance to get that close to mountain goats is special.
A few helpful hints.
Bring extra water.
Wear boots not running shoes, preferably with a thicker sole due to the rocks.
Follow the guidelines for the goats.
Don't be too proud to use trekking poles.

9 months ago

The description of the trail included above is accurate. Plenty of wind-falls across the mid-section of the trial. Yeah, It's a calorie burner. 3.5 hrs in and 2.5 hrs on return to my truck. Bummer, JoRayne couldn't make this trip :(

No goats at the peak. Some Elk along the way at 5,200 ft. Nice weather and minimal wildfire smoke. Worth your time and energy.

9 months ago

Engle Peak Trail (#932) is my preferred route to both Engle Peak and Engle Lake. About a mile away from the lake or the peak, the trail forks, and one can choose to go up the peak or down into the lake. The trailhead is about 12 miles off of the highway, along winding gravel roads. You probably don’t need a 4X4 during the summer season, but I would be cautious at other times of the year.

Be prepared for steep start in the trail. You will suffer for about 1.5 miles, then it starts to level out more or less, until you reach the foot of Engle Peak. I’m not going to pretend like you won’t face some ascent, but keep in mind that you are hiking up Engle Peak.

The views for the first 2 miles or so, are marginal, but the rest of the hike has spectacular views on all sides, for most of the hike. On a clear day, you can much of western Montana.

Bear in mind, this is bear country. This is in the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness, and it is pretty much wilderness. There are no facilities of any kind in the area, so come prepared with everything you need.

By the way, the snow is very slow in melting up there. Don’t expect to get up there very early in the year. I would suggest waiting until June at the very least.

9 months ago

Trail was clear and easy to navigate. Apparently one small black bear in the area but no worries, make a lil noise and the timid things usually scurry away. The peak was well worth the 2.5hrs of hamstring punishment. Highly recommend.

on Scotchman Peak Trail

9 months ago

Mountain goats!

Awesome trip! We backpacked in on 9/1/17 and did an overnight. Only wildlife was a bull moose across the creek at lower trail. The lake is well worth the incline of the last 2.5 miles. Great campsite by the lake. We had it to ourselves. Beautiful - beautiful make sure you get this ecoerienxe

Directions and markers were awful. We got lost and found some locals to direct us. Having said that, the hike was hard even for a seasoned hiker. Views were amazing and mountain goats were epic as we saw two adults and two babies. App had us at 10.9 miles and 264 flights of stairs. Favorite hike thus far!

Definitely hard. Like everyone else posted it is closer to 8 miles. Glad I did it, don't need to do it again.

9 months ago

All uphill from the trail head to the summit. The persistent incline and overall distance will test your conditioning. We made the summit in 2.5 hrs and were down in 2.

Take a sweatshirt or windbreaker because the temperature difference is quite drastic between the base and summit.

3 goats wandering the summit. They kept their distance.

9 months ago

Neat and very senic...pretty tuff, but not bad. Didn't see any Mtn goats in the end of September, bring water, no streams or water sources.

Excellent hike. First third of the way up is strenuous. The middle section was my favorite with excellent views, beautiful vegetation, gradual climb, and grouse! The last mile requires good balance and concentration for the loose rocks. The peak was awesome. Big slabs of rock to lay on. We saw goats on the steep shaded northern slope!

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