West Fork Mountain Trail No. 347
DirectionsFrom Bonners Ferry, Idaho, travel 15 miles north on Highway 95 to the junction with State Highway 1. There was a major construction project going on at the old junction in 2003 that is likely continuing in 2004. Go 1 mile north on Highway 1 and turn west on Copeland Road (County Road No. 45). After 3 miles it crosses the Kootenai River on Copeland Bridge, and 2 miles farther on it connects to West Side Road (still identified as County Road 45 on the 2003 Kaniksu Forest map, but it may be labeled as West Side Road No. 417 on signs). Travel northwest 9 or 10 miles to Smith Creek Road No. 281. This road is paved for the first 6.5 miles. Between mileposts 7 and 8 bear left at the junction with Road 655, continuing on Road 281 another 3 miles, then bear right on Road 2446 for 1.2 miles to the trailhead. A narrow turnaround area allows parking for four to six vehicles. Trail No. 347 is accessed by following Trail No. 21 for the first mile.
Follow Trail 21 for a mile to its junction with this trail, which meanders mostly at a gentle grade up the West Fork of Smith Creek. Within the first half mile, Trail 347 passes through a magnificent forest of old-growth cedars, some of which are more than 8 feet in diameter. The trail crosses a corner of private land owned by a timber corporation that logged the property years ago, but some of the big trees were left behind. The trail then climbs steadily toward a granite ridge and switchbacks up the mountainside into the small basin cradling the lake. A spur trail goes left to the lake, while the main trail starts a rather grueling ascent to the peak. West Fork Mountain is actually two summits on a long ridge stretching northwest to southeast. On this stony, barren, windswept rock is a metal lookout tower that must be 40 feet tall. The lower steps have been removed to prevent access to this rickety structure. The views in all directions are stunning.