Grassy Top Mountain (Selkirk Mountains, NE Washington)

This month of transition between summer and fall is the perfect time to plan a visit to Grassy Top in the Colville National Forest (assuming there are no wildfires burning nearby). One could potentially find lingering wildflowers or enjoy a few last huckleberries, but shorter days bring cooler temperatures and changing colors to this high-country landscape as well.

Since the Trail #533 starts high at Pass Creek Pass, hikers have less than 1,000 feet of elevation gain over the course of the 4 miles (8 miles roundtrip) leading to the summit at 6,253 feet. The first portion of the hike remains largely in the trees with few views but a strong possibility of finding hucks. At the 2.7 mile mark, pass the junction leading to Hall Mountain to the west. It’s a worthy destination for the adventurous who don’t mind the 20 mile round-trip distance, but stay left to continue towards Grassy Top, where the trail increasingly crosses through open meadows. The views along the way include Washington’s Shedroof Divide and Crowell Ridge to the northwest, and Idaho’s Selkirk Crest to the east.

Carry all water needed for the hike as this trail has few reliable sources. Bring a camera to capture the change in seasons and maybe even some of the resident wildlife. Keep kids and pets close since this mountain is home to bears who may be foraging for huckleberries, or even the occasional cougar or wolf passing through. The trail is open to hikers, horses and mountain bikers and is dog friendly (leashes highly recommended).

Getting There: From Newport, Wash., head north on Highway 31 north of Tiger and turn right on Sullivan Lake Road. Continue past Sullivan Lake and turn right on Forest Service Road #22. Continue on FR22, staying right at the one major road junction, following the signs toward Priest Lake. The trail is on the right just before topping out at Pass Creek Pass. Parking is on the right a short way beyond the trailhead.


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