Roosevelt Grove of Ancient Cedars and Granite Falls

Roosevelt GroveThe grandeur of 800-2,000+ year old living cedar trees awaits you at the Roosevelt Grove of Ancient Cedars located 13 miles north of Nordman on Forest Road 302 (an extension of State Highway 57). The trees in this virgin forest are up to 12 feet in diameter and 150 feet tall. 

A short trail from the lower grove will lead you to the base of Lower Granite Falls. Here, Granite Creek cascades down a narrow, sheer rock wall with a thunderous roar. A one-mile loop trail from the lower cedar grove takes you to vista points above the Lower falls where both Lower and Upper Granite Falls may be viewed. Continue another 1/2 mile from the vista points and you will arrive at the upper cedar grove.

Granite FallsOnce sufficient snow falls, the route (from approximately four miles north of Nordman to the grove) is closed to wheeled vehicle traffic and is opened as a primary snowmobile route. The grove, and especially the creek and falls can be even more spectacular in the winter with various ice formations creating a surreal effect. As the snow clears, the spring runoff creates an awesome volume of water spilling over the falls. Be prepared to be doused by copious amounts of spray from the falls if you visit during runoff!

The campground and picnic area located in the lower grove is named STAGGER INN after a fire camp that was used in 1926. At that time the road extended only as far as Nordman. Firefighters, weary from hiking and battling blazes, more or less staggered into the camp. Thus, the name STAGGER INN was adopted.

Print Email

Wildlife and Big Game


The area has a growing population of bald eagles and an abundant population of osprey. Numerous osprey nests are visible in high tree snags around the shorelines of the both Priest and Upper Priest Lakes and on some of the islands. Depending upon the time of the year, the wetland areas off the south end of the Lake and in the Bear Creek area are excellent areas to view less common duck species such as the wood duck and redhead. Also, don't be surprised if you observe a great blue heron stalking its meal in a wetland area or a flock of wild turkeys along the roadside.

Numerous other bird species also reside at Priest Lake. Ravens are ubiquitous, as are numerous varieties of woodpeckers and jays. Pine martins, goshawks, grouse and blue birds are but a few of the other species native to the area. In summer, large numbers of hummingbirds congregate throughout the area.


Wild Life & Big Game

Larger game species that make the Priest Lake area their home include black and grizzly bears, whitetail and mule deer, moose, elk, wolves, mountain lions, bobcats, mountain sheep and a few mountain goats. The grizzly bear and mountain caribou have been designated as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act and their habitats are protected by selective mountain road closures, restrictive bear hunting methods, etc.

A wide variety of smaller animals also make the Priest Lake Basin their home. Included are raccoons, skunks, snowshoe hares, beaver, otters, squirrels, an abundant supply of grouse, turkeys and waterfowl. You may encounter a few snakes in the area but all are the harmless variety. No poisonous snakes make the Priest Lake area home.


Idaho residents who are fortunate enough to be drawn for a once-in-a-lifetime moose permit are virtually guaranteed success in bagging a bull moose when hunting in the Priest Lake area. These majestic animals are widespread and frequently encountered at all elevations.

Idaho Fish & Game regulates the seasons and rules regarding hunting for all game species. It is wise to check the regulations in advance of your hunting trip.

Print Email

Hughes Ridge Lookout & Hughes Meadow

Hughes LookoutA spectacular view of Upper Priest Lake, Hughes Meadow and the surrounding area awaits at a 45-foot lookout tower atop Hughes Ridge. The tower is manned for approximately three months during the summer fire season and visitors are welcome. The panoramic views are fantastic and provide a picture perfect setting for a picnic lunch - and don't forget the camera.

Hughes Meadow is a large meadow located on the west side of Hughes Ridge. Depending on climatic conditions and beaver activity on the stream that flows through the meadow, it may be extremely marshy throughout the year from spring-fall. Numerous birds and wildlife frequent the meadow. Of particular interest is the cedar grove along the entrance road adjacent to Hughes Meadows. Here, old growth cedars stand majestically, as sentinels to a meadow access corridor. With the exception of snowmobiles recreational vehicles are prohibited on Hughes Meadow. Also, the access road into Hughes Meadow is closed to all vehicles each year from March 15-June 30.

The route to both Hughes Meadow Lookout and Hughes Meadow is via USFS Road 302 (an extension of State Highway 57) from Nordman. Travel a total of 18 3/4 miles north on USFS Road 302 and 1013 over Granite Pass to USFS Road 662. Signs point toward Hughes Ridge. Turn left onto Road 662 and proceed for approximately 1-1/2 miles until it intersects with USFS Road 1343. Stay left on Road 662 to go to Hughes Meadow (1 1/2 mile).

To proceed to the Hughes Ridge Lookout, bear right at the intersection onto Road 1343 and travel up several switchbacks for 5 miles. At that point, you will be at a 'Y' intersection. Look very carefully to your left for the unmarked trailhead. The trailhead may be somewhat obscured depending upon the time of year and undergrowth conditions.

A half mile hike to the top of the ridge will take you to the lookout tower. The initial portion of the trail is steep, but the climb is well worth the  fantastic views from the lookout. As with all mountain roads in the Priest Lake area, conditions on Road 1343 can vary greatly. It is wise to check with the USFS Priest Lake Ranger District office (MP 32, Hwy 57) prior to traveling on this road.

Hughes Ridge Lookout and Hughes Meadow are great excursions to take in conjunction with a visit to the Roosevelt Grove of Ancient Cedars / Granite Falls.

Print Email

Hiking Trails

Great Hiking Adventures at Priest Lake

Priest Lake creates a hiker’s paradise where one can very easily escape to the solitude and beauty of Mother Nature. Each trail has its own unique characteristics that vary from deep, virgin cedar forests, to panoramic vistas of the Selkirk Mountains and the lake, to shoreline excursions that afford easy access to magnificent sandy beaches. Numerous close-in day hike trailheads, as well as trail routes that lead into the backcountry, are adjacent to resorts campgrounds and other lodging facilities.

The Priest Lake Ranger District maintains a hiking trail system on the federal lands to the west, northwest, and along the west shorelines of both Priest Lake and Upper Priest Lake. The trails are well marked and free from most obstacles. A Priest Lake trails booklet is available free of charge at the Priest Lake Ranger District office.
The Priest Lake Area Office of the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) manages the state-owned lands to the east of Priest Lake. These state lands are managed exclusively as endowment lands to support the Idaho public school system. The trails on endowment lands are not maintained and travel may include negotiating downfalls and brush as well as using route finding skills. High clearance or 4X4 vehicles are recommended for accessing trailheads. The local area office produced informal hiking maps that are available to the public.
Below are the general descriptions of some of the more popular trails in the Priest Lake area. The trail numbers refer to the numbering system developed by the Priest Lake Ranger District on the west side of the lake. Trails that do not cite a reference number are those trails found on the east side of the lake on state owned lands.


This trail is an easy hike that follows the west shoreline and passes in front of several summer homes. The 6 mile trail leaves from Outlet Bay Campground, passes through Osprey and Luby Bay Campgrounds, the Priest Lake Museum and Hill’s Resort and terminates at the Kalispell Bay Boat Launch. The trail crosses the Lakeshore Road # 237 twice just south of Hill’s Resort so use caution when crossing the road. No exclusive trailhead exists for this trail. To access the north end of the trail, turn off Highway 57 onto Kalispell Bay Road. In approximately ½ mile or so, just before reaching the Priest Lake Community Church, follow the road to the right towards Priest Lake Marina. Continue past the marina on Lakeshore Road to the Kalispell Bay Boat Launch. Trail access is located at the south end of the boat launch parking area. To access the south end of the trail, turn off Highway 57 onto the Outlet Bay Road. Drive approximately ½ mile and turn left onto the Lakeshore Road. Drive another ½ mile and turn left across from the Outlet Bay Campground into the Woodrat Trail parking; head down to the beach in the campground and you will find the trail. This trail is open to foot traffic only.


Many scenic views of the lake are available along this trail. It crosses an old ski hill on the Southern end, continues through private land towards the north end and terminates on a secluded beach immediately south of Elkins Resort on Priest Lake. The southern trailhead is located on the west side of Kalispell Bay Road at a locked gate across the road from the Kalispell Day-Use area, about ½ mile beyond the Kalispell Creek bridge. From the trailhead, follow the road behind the gate for approximately ½ mile until you see the Lakeview Trail #365 sign to the right. The north trailhead is located just south of Elkins on Priest Lake, near the lodge. Cross the footbridge that spans Reeder Creek and follow the trail from that point. The length of the trail is 4 ½ miles. This is a multiple use trail to include foot, mountain bike, motorized vehicles and horse traffic.


This trail begins on the east side of Lakeview Mountain. For the initial 1 ½ miles of the trail, it switchbacks up the steeper east side of the mountain. The first panoramic views of the lake and surrounding mountains are near the 2 mile mark. As the trail descends down the west side of the mountain, several more panoramic viewpoints will attract your attention. This portion of the trail passes through stands of Douglas fir, pine, young cedar and open hill sides. The total length of the trail is 5 ½ miles and it is rated “More Difficult.” The beginning elevation of the trail is 2,640 feet and climbs to approximately 4,070 feet before descending back down to near lake level. From the east side the trail is accessed from the Kalispell Reeder trail # 365 about 1 mile south of Elkins Resort. The western trailhead is located just off Highway 57 between milepost 35 and 36 across from Bismark Meadows. This is a multiple use trail to include foot, mountain bike, motorcycles and horse traffic.


This is a very popular and well used trail. It traverses the west shoreline for 7 ½ miles from just north of Granite Creek to Beaver Creek Campground. It is an easy hike that crosses five streams and has many grand views of the lake and the Selkirk Crest situated on the east side of the lake. There are numerous access points to isolated beaches that make great picnic locations. To access this trail, turn off of Highway 57 at Nordman and follow Reeder Bay Road/ USFS Road #2412 for 4.7 miles. The first of four trailheads is on the right side of the road with two additional trailheads further up the road with the fourth at the south end of the Beaver Creek Boat Launch. The trail is designated for foot, mountain bike and horse traffic.

Huff Lake Interpretive Site

The Huff Lake Interpretive Site is a treasured peatland located in north Idaho.  Travel 11 1/4 miles north from Nordman, following State Highway 57 and Forest Road 302 (gravel) until you see the interpretive signs on the east side of the road.  Huff Lake is an excellent example of valley peatlands.  Peatlands are formed when large amounts of organic material or "peat" accumulate in a waterlogged area.  The deep layers of peat transform the area into a harsh habitat - wet, acidic, nutrient-poor - but remarkably stable and long lived.  Volunteer partners have constructed an informational kiosk, viewing platform, and approximately 90 feet of boardwalk with interpretive signing for visitors to use.  Huff Lake is also a popular spot for moose and other forest criters.  Come check out this unique setting and the beauty that comes with it.  But please enjoy Huff Lake from the deck and trail only as it is very sensitive to disturbance.


This trail is a pleasant, easy hike that traverses a predominately Douglas fir forest for the first few miles. The trail then drops into an area of old-growth cedar as it approaches Upper Priest Lake. The trail crosses Ruby Creek as well as other smaller unnamed creeks and eventually follows the east shoreline of Upper Priest Lake to Trapper Campground. The trail passes by an old mine shaft, Coolin’s cabin, and early hunting stands perched high in the ancient cedars. The tread of the trail is normally in good shape and several wet areas are crossed via trail bridges. However, early in the season, portions of the trail in the cedar grove may be somewhat muddy. The route to the trailhead is via USFS Road # 302 (an extension of Highway 57) from Nordman. Travel past the Roosevelt Cedar Grove/Granite Falls area (14 miles from Nordman) and through Granite Pass. At the major intersection just beyond the pass, continue straight onto USFS Road #1013 until it intersects with USFS Road #655 (about 6 ½ miles). Turn right onto Road #655 and proceed for approximately ½ mile. The trailhead will be on your right and the parking area to your left, across from the trailhead. The length of this trail is 5 miles and it is restricted to foot, mountain bike and horseback use. This trail is located within grizzly bear habitat; use appropriate cautions.


Trail #308 is a very scenic trail that winds alongside the Upper Priest River and through stands of massive old-growth red cedar and lush river bottom vegetation. To access Trail #308, follow the same directions above for Trail #302 to Granite Pass. Continue straight on USFS Road #1013 for approximately 11 ½ miles and look for the trailhead sign and parking area on the left side of the road. This 8.1 mile trail terminates at the jewel of this route: Upper Priest Falls, which tumbles 40 feet into a deep, crystal clear pool beneath towering walls of granite; just a quarter mile from the Canadian border. It is possible to reach the falls with a shorter but steep 2.5 mile hike starting further north at the Continental Trail #28. This trailhead can be reached by continuing north on Road #1013 for about another 11 ½ miles past the Trail #308 trailhead. Trail #28 trailhead is just short of the end of the road on the left side. Both trails are open to foot, mountain bike and horseback traffic only. Note that Road # 1013 beyond the 308 trailhead is not recommended for trailers due to the steep grade and tight switchbacks. These trails are located within grizzly bear habitat; use appropriate cautions.


The view from the summit of Lookout Mountain is stunning. The Lions Head, Lion Head Ridge, Abandon Mountain and numerous other striking Selkirk Crest land features lay before those who make the 2 ½ mile hike to the lofty vista point. In 1929, a cupola cabin was built to house lookout personnel. Along with the lookout tower (rebuilt in 1977) the cabin still stands as a sentinel overlooking the magnificent Selkirk Mountain Range. The unique building is listed on the National Historic Lookout Register and is, in itself, well worth the hiking effort. To reach the trail, drive north from Coolin on Cavanaugh Bay/ East Shore Road/State Forest Road # 1 towards Lionhead Unit of Priest Lake State Park (23 miles). Continue about 4 miles past the Lionhead Campground and bear right onto State Forest Road #44. Continue on Road #44 for 2 ½ miles to the junction with State Forest Road #43 turn right onto Road #43. Go ¼ mile to the junction with State Forest Road #432 turn left onto State Forest Road #432 and climb steadily for 3.0 miles to the trailhead on the left. Follow the trail to Lookout Lake. Beyond the lake, the trail ascends to a small saddle and trail junction. Stay on the trail to the left. This trail segment will terminate at Lookout Mountain Road. Follow this road to the lookout site.


Trail (East Side)- How about a hike to the 7,300 foot elevation level capped with the reward of incredible panoramic views? The beauty of Priest Lake unfolds nearly a mile below, the awesome grandeur of Chimney Rock seems but an arm’s length away, and the Selkirk Crest surrounds you. It can be yours for a moderate hiking effort and about three to four hours of your time. The Mount Roothaan/ Chimney Rock Trail is a popular route that leads into the backcountry of Priest Lake with spectacular vistas along the way. You can drive your vehicle (high clearance only!) to the trailhead parking area atop Horton Ridge at an elevation of 5,100 feet. From the trailhead, the 2 mile trail leads along Horton Ridge up to a saddle near the crest of Mount Roothaan. The last ½ mile of trail is “mountain goat country” very steep and rocky. The trail continues on to base of Chimney Rock for those hardy souls who survive the “mountain goat” climb and desire an additional two hours or so of hiking (round trip from Mount Roothaan to Chimney Rock.) Good hiking boots are a must on this portion of the trail as the route passes through an extensive talus field. To reach Mount Roothaan/Chimney Rock trailhead, travel north from Coolin 7.4 miles on Cavanaugh Bay/East Lakeshore Road (or 4 miles south from the Indian Creek Campground) to Forest Road #24. This road intersects with East Lakeshore Road immediately north of Hunt Creek Bridge. Turn onto Road #24 and continue for 4 miles until you arrive at a fork in the road. Bear left at the fork onto Forest Road #2. After traveling 1.6 miles, you will arrive at the intersection of Roads #2 and #25. Road #2 continues straight and Road #25 continues to the right. Proceed on Road #25 for 4.1 miles to the trailhead parking area. The drive from the East Lakeshore Road to the trailhead will take approximately one hour and the hike to Mount Roothaan takes about 1½ hours.


Although this trail appears to be a short, easy one-mile hike, don’t be misled- this trail will require more jumping than hiking. The trail to Hunt Lake very rarely meets Mother Earth-virtually the entire route traverses across a talus field, requiring hikers to hop from boulder to boulder as they follow the painted rock cairns and arrows that mark the way. It is the kind of hike that you will either love or hate. Either way, the payoff is well worth the effort. Nestled in a high alpine bowl, Hunt Lake presents a most stunning setting. To reach the Hunt Lake trailhead travel north from Coolin 7.4 miles on Cavanaugh Bay/ East Lakeshore Road (or 4 miles south from the Indian Creek Campground) to Forest Road #24. This road intersects with East Lakeshore Road immediately north of Hunt Creek Bridge. Turn onto Road #24 and continue for 4 miles until you arrive at a fork in the road (junction with Road #2 off to the left). At this point Road #2 and #24 becomes the same road and continues off to the right. Follow Road #2/Road #24 a ½ mile to the junction where Road #2 and Road #24 splits again. Turn left on Road #24(note reforestation sign at junction) and travel 1 mile to the Road #241 junction formally known as Road #243. Turn left on Road #241 and travel 3.5 miles to the end of the road. There is a small trail sign to the east of the parking area.
When planning to hike on the east side of the Lake, it is a good idea to stop in at the Idaho Department of Lands office in Cavanaugh Bay (adjacent to the airstrip) or call (208) 443-2516 to get the latest directions and maps. The east side of the Lake can have active timber sales in progress where logging trucks or logging equipment can pose a danger to the general public traveling on State logging roads. The Department of Lands can make you aware of current logging activities and road restrictions. The Department of Lands also has maps and directions to additional hikes and scenic attractions on the east side of the Lake.
The varying terrain in the Priest Lake area ranges from river bottoms with an elevation of near 2,600 feet to mountainous areas of 7,500 feet. Valley bottoms, dense forests, meadow, wetlands, occasional clearings and barren ridges are harmoniously mixed with streams, rives and lakes. A hiking adventure at Priest Lake can be tailored to be “mountain goat” challenging or as simple as a few hours strolling along one of the lakeshore trails. At either extreme, or anywhere in between, Mother Nature will greet the hiker with an abundance of spirit-lifting grandeur.
One final word: Please help keep the Priest Lake area pristine so it will be as enjoyable for future generations as it has been for you… PACK IT IN-PACK IT OUT. Use and protect this wonderful resource so that future generations may find their wilderness legacy a reflection of our care and concern for the magnificent natural environment of Priest Lake. Happy Hiking!!

Print Email

Priest Lake Chamber of Commerce Copyright© 2018 | PO Box 174 Coolin, Idaho 83821
Phone: (208) 443-3191
| Toll Free: (888) 774-3785