Lochsa River Historic Trail

photo: Lochsa Historical Ranger Station. Photo by JERRYE & ROY KLOTZ MD wiki.

Length: 16.00 miles
Loop Trail? No
Type: Backcountry
Agency: USDA Forest Service
Entry Fee? No
Parking Fee? No

Allowed Uses:

Bicycling (on pavement)
Bicycling (off pavement)
Dogs - On leash
Equestrian - Riding
Equestrian - Pack trips
Equestrian - Other stock
Pedestrian - Walking/Hiking/Running
Snow - Cross-country Skiing
Snow - Snowshoeing
Wildlife Observation

See more details.


Location: 121 miles east of Lewiston, ID. via Hwy 12.
State(s): Idaho
Counties: Idaho
Longitude: -115.328349169
Latitude: 46.3382474866

Driving Directions

The nearest trailhead is at the Split Creek Bridge, just up river from MM 111. It takes off on the downriver side (left) at the parking lot, switchbacks up the hill, there is wild dogwood trees located in this area.

The farthest upriver trailhead is across from the Wilderness Gateway entrance, at approximately 122.5, next to Sherman Creek. It also starts out with a couple switchbacks before traveling along downstream above the highway, on a fairly open hillside, to the LHRS, another trail access.

The trail can also be accessed from Fish Creek, MM 120, Beaver Flats and the Snowshoe Falls trail, which are both located between MM 117 and 118. There is a couple old access trails that I would like to see open, one near 'Lochsa Falls' in the river, MM 114.5, across from the green highway mileage sign. and another upriver from MM 116, which maybe was cut out 3 years ago, when there was a fire up above the trail.


The trail offers views of Lochsa Wild & Scenic River and the Selway-Bitterrot Wilderness.

The trail is a moderate to more than moderate elevation climb, to get up to where the trail stays somewhat in the same elevation. Because of lack of use and maintenance, the tread is grassing in, in the spring time it is a favorite place for grazing elk, so care is needed to not go off on a game trail on the switchbacks. Fantastic views and granite pillar rocks that the trail goes around and by.

Additional Details

Width: 24 inches.
Primary Surface: Soil
Secondary Surface: Soil

Average Grade: 5%
Maximum Grade: 10%
Elevation Low Point: 1,800
Elevation High Point: 1,900
Elevation Gain (cumulative): Not Available

Year Designated:

Contact Information

For more information and current conditions, contact the trail manager (listed below). For questions, suggestions, and corrections to information listed on the website, contact American Trails.

Duane Annis
Clearwater National Forest
Clearwater National Forest
12730 Hwy. 12
Orofino, ID 83544
(207) 476-4450
[email protected]



Lochsa river along National historic trail. Photo by Forest Service North Region.

Lochsa river along National historic trail. Photo by Forest Service North Region.

Lochsa and Selway river convulgence. Photo by Forest Service North Region.

Lochsa and Selway river convulgence. Photo by Forest Service North Region.


Lochsa Historical Ranger Station. Photo by JERRYE & ROY KLOTZ MD wiki.

Lochsa Historical Ranger Station. Photo by JERRYE & ROY KLOTZ MD wiki.


Beautiful but poorly maintained and no camping sites.

I went April 20 -21 starting at the Split Creek trailhead. I brought along loppers and a Silky saw intending to do some light trail maintenance along the way as is my habit. The entire trail has brush grown into the trail that the hiker must claw his way through. I used the loppers to brush the 1st mile but that took 3 hours to cover that 1 mile so it became obvious it was a lost cause and I gave up brushing. From that point on I only sawed blowdowns, but there were lots and lots of blowdowns. I got most of them within the limits of my Silky saw (about 10" diameter max) but there were several large blowdowns that I had to leave. Before I cleared the blowdowns, the trail would have been almost unusable. Now it is decent other than constantly having to push through brush.

The trail starts out in mostly open country, switchbacking up the hill. Then it levels out. As you head upriver, you gradually encounter more forest until you are in shady old growth forest with lots of creeks and small water falls and ferns. It was beautiful and felt like true wilderness even though it was never far from the road.

There are zero level spots along the trail where you can pitch a tent, so this trail might be better suited to a hammock-type tent that can be strung from trees.

April 22, 2021


One of my favorite trails, for any month.

On June 3rd, 2018, I hiked up to this trail, on an old trail, not maintained, that leaves the highway at MM 114.5, across from 'Lochsa Falls', famous with river runners. The trail starts across the highway from the green mileage sign (how many miles to Lolo Pass 60, Lolo 96, Missoula 107). After getting to the trail, turning downriver, I encountered several downed trees and a major washout at the first draw, washed down to bedrock, the trail completely gone. Even with just hiking with my dog, I chose to not attempt crossing. This is upstream from Tumble Creek, which is a waterfall at the highway, across from where Old Man comes into the Lochsa River. I always recommend the short hike to Snowshoe Falls, trailhead across from the 'Wilderness' sign at approximately MM 117.5, it also is a fairly steep climb to get to this trail. On tread width, I think, 10 - 12 inches is more correct, with at times being hidden under vegetation.
So, I hope there has been some maintenance, I have heard if there was more access trails it would help with the maintenance, not having it be such a long stretch to cover in one pass.

I'll give it a 4 Star for it's all-season, for accesses that there are now, the views, the open areas with pillar rock , the timber cover, and especially the historical part it has played. I highly recommend Louis Hartig's book, the 'Lochsa'.
From the lower end, I do not think there is a safe way to return to the highway, till the trail I used at MM 114.5, which is not clearly marked where it is at the top. I did come down to the highway along a ridge farther upriver, not a trail, but you have to be aware of where the cliffs are. The next marked trail is just upriver from Snowshoe Falls. So, that's approximately MM 111.5 - 117.5, on the highway, adding quite a bit more mileage for the ins and out of the trail.

July 20, 2018



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