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Backpacker Magazine – October 2001

Best Backpacking In Idaho

Our comprehensive guide to the best backpacking you can find in Idaho.

by: Steve Howe

Sawtooth Wilderness

Named for its jagged skyline, this 338-square-mile wilderness offers more than 250 miles of diverse trail, plus more than 50 granite peaks rising above 10,000 feet. Tightly clustered snowfields fuel renowned displays of summer wildflowers, feed thriving trout streams, and fill more than 300 lakes. Hike the Redfish Creek/Baron Creek Trail, or strike out cross-country. Much of the area is untrailed, and an additional 320,000 roadless acres await next door. Seeking solitude? Stick to the western side of the range.

Contact: Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Sawtooth National Forest, (208) 727-5000;

Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness

Rushing whitewater, rich wildlife, and spectacularly nonexistent crowds highlight our nation's second-largest wilderness area. For alpine splendor, hike into the lake-filled Bighorn Crags. For a pristine river canyon, hike the Idaho State Centennial Trail north along the Middle Fork of the Salmon River during late summer and autumn.

Contact: Salmon-Cobalt Ranger District, Salmon-Challis National Forest, (208) 756-5100;

Bitterroot Mountains

The steep, linear Bitterroot Range forms the Continental Divide between northern Idaho and western Montana and lends its name to the immense Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness of Idaho. For spectacular high country and access to adventurous loop treks, follow the 10-mile Tin Cup Creek Trail west from Darby, Montana. Contact: Bitterroot National Forest, (406) 363-7161;

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