Upper Priest River Trail #308 and American Falls (Idaho Panhandle NF, Priest Lake District)
Avoid the mid-summer crowds by tackling this hike in the fall. Take the long route (16 miles round-trip) for the full experience; if that distance is too much, there’s a 4.6 mile option. Elevation gain is minimal (highpoint at the falls: 3400’) as the trail contours though ancient cedar forests in this beautiful river valley. Sounds are muted by the thick forest duff, and fall rains bring out fantastic mushroom displays (bring a good identification guide, and never sample a mushroom unless you’re certain it’s edible).
Best for: This trail is typically snow-free from late June through mid-fall. Hikers should be aware of fall hunting seasons and dress accordingly. Always check extended weather forecasts before planning a fall visit as early snowfall could block trailhead access. Open to hikers, equestrians, and mountain bikes; dog friendly with a leash.
Getting there: From Priest River, take Highway 57 north to Nordman, then continue up Forest Road 302 to Stagger Inn Campground. Continue about 2 miles to Forest Road 1013, then another 12 miles to the trailhead on the left side of the road at 2830’ elevation (for the shorter hike, continue approximately 11 miles beyond the first trailhead and watch for Continental Creek Trail #28).