4 Long Trails to Hike or Run

By Holly Weiler & Ammi Midstokke

Sometimes a reasonable day hike is enough. Sometimes you need to push your mind and body to see how far you can go. The following recommendations are for hikers and trail runners who want to cover some serious distance in a single-day push.  

Okanogan Highlands—Kettle Crest Trail 

Trail Distance: 30 miles one way 

The Kettle Crest Trail is a National Recreation Trail and segment of the newest long-distance National Scenic Trail, the Pacific Northwest Trail. Experience its beauty as it skirts 10 named peaks and goes directly over the summit of an 11th, Copper Butte. To do this traverse as one long push, start by dropping off a shuttle vehicle at the northern terminus, Deer Creek/Boulder Summit, then drive around to Highway 20 to start at Sherman Pass. The trail heads north while contouring around the summits along the way, offering views of both the Selkirk Mountain Range to the east and the Cascade Range to the west. Time this traverse to finish at sunset for spectacular views of a post-fire landscape as the route concludes through the Stickpin burn of 2015. (HW) 

Kettle Crest Range, Colville National Forest. // Photo: David Moskowitz

Okanogan Highlands—Mini Kettle Crest 

Trail Distance: 8 miles roundtrip  

To try this traverse as a shorter option without a long shuttle required, start at Sherman Pass and take the Kettle Crest Trail north as far as the Columbia Mountain Loop. A spur trail leading northeast to the summit intersects the main Kettle Crest Trail at the 2.4-mile mark. This trail circles the mountain for great views in all directions, with a secondary spur trail leading directly to the summit where a restored historic fire lookout cabin awaits visitors. Return to the Kettle Crest via the same spur trail, and then retrace the route south back to Sherman Pass for an 8-mile version of the Kettle Crest North traverse. (HW) 

Kettle Crest // Photo: Holly Weiler

Selkirk Mountains—Long Canyon Creek Trail 16 

Trail Distance: Choose your own adventure length 

This (mostly) gentle, sloping trail works its way up the aptly named Long Canyon until it connects to Pyramid Mountain Trail No 7 at around 12 miles. The canyon offers shelter from warm temperatures thanks to the beautiful hemlock and cedar forest, as well as several mild and refreshing creek crossings. This is an out-and-back trail that allows for turning around anytime, but it can also be turned into a loop at its junction with Parker Ridge and Pyramid Mountain trails. This makes for a brutal 30+ mile day, but the views once out of the canyon are worth it. The trail is accessed via Copeland Road north of Bonners Ferry and is perfect for a long run in the woods without a summit. (AM) 

High-country views in North Idaho's Selkirk Mountains.
High-country views in North Idaho’s Selkirk Mountains. // Photo: Chic Burge

Cabinet Mountains—Rock Lake Trail 935 

Trail Distance: 8 miles roundtrip 

This adventure near Trout Creek, Mont., begins with a spicy creek crossing right out of the gate (bring extra shoes and tie them to a tree for the return crossing). The trail follows an old mining road for the first three miles, leading happy runners through beautiful meadows before reaching the Heidelberg Mine site—a perfect history break—and then climbing up to some beautiful falls before reaching the lake. For much of the run, one is surrounded by views of tempting peaks. Jump in the lake with the fish before heading back down for a pleasant descent (and oh, right, that last creek crossing). This trail is also the means of accessing several of the Cabinet Wilderness Area’s peaks, including the off-trail adventures of Ojibway and Rock Peak. (AM)

Hiking Rock Lake Trail. // Photo: Ammi Midstokke

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