Salmo-Priest Wilderness

Located in the Selkirk Mountains in northeastern Washington bordering Idaho and Canada, the 43,348 acre Salmo-Priest Wilderness has some of the wildest country left in the state. Climb out of old-growth forest to enjoy sweeping views from high ridge lines. Scenic and solitary day hiking and backpacking options abound in this arid and distinct area, where you might spot elk, caribou, bears, and other wildlife.

getting there

The Salmo-Priest Wilderness is approximately 2.5 hours north of Spokane, WA. The nearest town is Metaline Falls. The wilderness is accessed via unpaved Forest Service roads which close seasonally. Check with the ranger district for current conditions.

There are various lodging and car camping options nearby, including three campgrounds near Sullivan Lake (East Sullivan Lake, West Sullivan Lake, and Noisy Creek), available for reservation at

On the Trail

Salmo-Priest Loop

19.0-mile loop, 3,600 feet of elevation gain, 6,829 high point

The most popular backpacking loop in the Salmo-Priest Wilderness comprises a 19-mile circuit, typically hiked clockwise and done in three days and two nights. The route starts at the Salmo Basin/Salmo Divide Trailhead (5,900 ft) and crosses into Idaho and then back to Washington.

Day 1: Hike the Salmo Basin Trail (No. 506) and descend ~1,800 feet over 3 miles to the South Salmo River. Cross the river, most likely getting your feet wet. There are multiple campsites along the river for shorter trips. But for the loop, follow the trail, which may become quite overgrown and brushy, another 3.5 miles or so to the first campsite in Idaho. The South Salmo River flows near this campsite, and this is the last water source on the trail (unless snow lingers) the second campsite in ~7 miles.

Day 2: For the second day, be sure to gather plenty of water becasue the Shedroof Divide Trail is sunny and exposed. Hike from camp to Snowy Top Pass to the Shedroof Divide Trail at its northern end. Continue south on the Shedroof Divide Trail, enjoying amazing views to the east and passing the signed turnoff for the Little Snowy Top fire lookout. Eventually, the trail wraps around the ridge to traverse along its west side just past a faint turnoff for the little-used Cabinet Pass Trail (No. 315). Descend a series of switchbacks to the second camping area and next water source. This campsite makes a good basecamp for additional days of exploration, if time permits.

Day 3: Hike from the second campsite along the Shedroof Divide trail about 2.3 miles to the junction with the Salmo Divide Trail (No. 535). The entry into Washington State is marked by a Salmo-Priest Wilderness sign on a tree near the junction. There are two campsites at this junction, but no reliable water source. Hike the Salmo Divide Trail (No. 535) the final three miles to the trailhead, passing through woods and meadows. In its final stretch the trail is an old road lined with large white boulders. Be sure to look across the valley and see the Salmo Mountain fire lookout in the distance.

Shedroof Divide

19 miles one-way, 3,200 feet of elevation gain, 6,500 ft hight point

This trail has solitude and stunning, though intermittent, ridge line views east into Idaho, where Priest Lake is shimmering in the distance. At 21.8 miles, it is the longest trail in the Salmo-Priest Wilderness and can be accessed via the Salmo Basin Trail (No. 506), the Shedroof Cutoff Trail (No. 511), or at its southern terminus. The Shedroof Divide Trail also provides access to the Hughes Fork Trail, which leads into the Idaho Panhandle National Forests and more options for longer trips. The price paid for solitude and spectacular views is an occasionally brushy trail with some blowdowns. Water is also very scarce along the trail, particularly in late summer and early fall.

Little Snowy Top Fire Lookout Site

The fire lookout burned down several years ago but the site where it stood is a pleasant spot  in the shade of gnarled trees for  lunch or a short stop while hiking the Salmo-Priest Loop or Shedroof Divide. From the Shedroof Divide Trail, ~1.5 miles south of Snowy Top Pass, hike the Little Snowy Top  Mountain Trail to the fire lookout site, 0.5 mile and 500 feet of elevation gain.

Crowell Ridge

14.4 miles round trip, 3,900 feet of elevation gain, 6,700 ft high point

From the Bear Pasture Trailhead (5,600 ft), hike the Crowell Ridge Trail 7.2 miles and 3,900 feet of elevation gain to fire lookout atop Sullivan Mountain.


Snowy Top mountain

From Snowy Top Pass, ascend the peak’s south slope from the saddle between it and Little Snowy Top. Water is not available at the pass. The nearest water source is the South Salmo River, a 2.3-mile descent on the Salmo Basin Trail (No. 506).

Gypsy Peak

8.0 miles round trip, 3,350 feet of elevation gain, 7,309 ft high point

From the Bear Pasture Trailhead (5,600 ft), hike the Crowell Ridge Trail 1.7 miles and then travel off-trail northeast over knolls and through meadows to the summit of Gypsy Peak (7,309 ft).


  • Suitable Activities: Backpacking, Day Hiking, Scrambling, Snowshoeing, Trail Running
  • Snowshoeing Category: Intermediate
  • Seasons: Year-round
  • Weather: View weather forecast
  • Avalanche Terrain Rating Complex View avalanche forecast.
  • 6,828 ft
  • Land Manager: Colville National Forest
    Salmo-Priest Wilderness, Sullivan Lake Ranger District (CNF)
  • Parking Permit Required: Northwest Forest Pass
  • Recommended Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Route/Place Capacity: 12
  • USFS Salmo-Priest Wilderness
  • USGS Gypsy Peak
  • USGS Salmo Mountain
  • USGS Helmer Mountain
  • USGS Continental Mountain
  • USGS Upper Priest Lake
Trip Reports

This is a list of titles that represent the variations of trips you can take at this route/place. This includes side trips, extensions and peak combinations. Not seeing a title that fits your trip? Log in and send us updates, images, or resources.

  • Crowell Ridge
  • Gypsy Peak
  • Crowell Ridge & Gypsy Peak
  • Salmo-Priest Loop
  • Little Snowy Top—Salmo-Priest Loop
  • Shedroof Divide
  • Shedroof Divide & Little Snowy Top Lookout Site
  • Snowy Top Mountain

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