Cold Springs Peak


Forest Service Trail #169

Why? Fine views

Season: Mid-July through September

Ease: Moderate to difficult. It’s 4 miles and 1,400 feet up to the peak from the Mush Saddle Trailhead.

In the old days, the hike from Mush Saddle to Cold Springs Peak was a rewarding though somewhat strenuous 4 miles. Now, though the views haven’t changed, the area looks used. Off road vehicles, which legally access Cold Springs Peak from the 5295 Road (see Connections, below), haven’t been staying on the trail.

Which doesn’t mean that Cold Springs Peak isn’t still worth hiking to, for it is.

If you head off Mush Saddle, most of the uphill work is in the first mile or so through the woods, 1,000 of the 1,400 foot total elevation gain. After that the ups and downs are gentle as the trail wanders a ridgeline, alternating between wooded and open sections, between shade and good long looks into the treed slopes surrounding the North Fork and its nearby tributaries. There are nice views back of Pot Mountain and some not-so-nice views of the 5295 Road as it winds its way up a rather ugly ridge off Flat Mountain.

The trail forks about a half mile before Cold Springs Peak, which is to the left. The peak has an old log lookout cabin which has been fixed up and is available to rent. It certainly would be an interesting spot during a thunderstorm.

The views from Cold Springs Peak are still worth the hike, off road vehicle damage notwithstanding, and the views of Pot Mountain on the hike back to Mush Saddle make it even more worthwhile. But I sure do wish the off road vehicles would stay out of the meadows and on the trails and roads that are open to them.

Trail Notes: The old log lookout cabin is a short 100 yards or so off #169, on the #169A spur.

Directions: Take Highway 12 east from Lewiston past Orofino to Greer. Turn east on Highway 11 at Greer and continue through Weippe almost to Pierce. Just before Pierce turn east on French Mountain Road. Soon after you’ll see signs indicating the mileage to Kelly Creek, which is a bit farther along the Clearwater River than you’re heading. This road is paved at the start, then gravel. Turn right on the road along the North Fork of the Clearwater 30 miles later and left on Road 711 near the forest work station. You’ll reach the Mush Saddle trailhead in 8 miles.

Information: Kelly Creek Ranger Station, CWNF, (208) 476-5877.

Map: USGS Elizabeth Lake, Idaho.