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Long Canyon Trail - No. 16

Contact Info
Kaniksu National Forest
6286 Main Street
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805

Phone:
208-267-5561
Basics
Length:
19 miles
Difficulty:
Intermediate
Time:
9 - 10 hours
Trailhead Elevation:
2620 feet

Description

Part of the West Bonners Ferry trail system. The trailhead (elevation 1900 ft) is located approximately 3/4 mile north of Long Canyon Creek on the West Side Road (#417). Long Canyon can be accessed from its trailhead in the Kootenai Valley or from Trout Creek and Trails 13 and 7.

Long Canyon is the largest unroaded drainage remaining in the Selkirks. For much of its length the trail offers a shaded, cool creek bottom setting among old growth cedar/hemlock. (The first 5 miles from the valley bottom are the exception, waterless pine and fir stands.) Trail 16 is also part of the longest uninterupted trail network on the B.F. District, affording access to Parker Ridge and numerous high mountain lakes via Trails 7 & 13.

The trailhead and first 1/4 mile of trail are on private land. For 1/2 mile, the trail winds in and out of small draws where Douglas fir and western larch predominate. The trail then crosses a rock knob and takes a series of switchbacks for the next mile before it passes a small pond and the remnants of an old homestead. At the 2 mile the trail starts to curve into the Canyon Creek drainage. Closed timber gives way to open grass meadows and rock outcroppings which afford views of Parker Ridge and the Kootenai Valley. The trail tread becomes narrow and extremely rocky with pitches between 20-35%. The climb continues for 0.8 mile without relief before the trail flattens somewhat and weaves through several draws. At 3 1/2 miles, the trail descends to Canyon Creek and enters an area of mudflats and aluvial deposits of rock and soil. The trail immediately climbs away from the creek, at a steady 15-25% grade, through closed canopy conifer forest. At 5 miles the trail junctions with Trail 424 (nonmaintained), an old cutoff to Parker Ridge. Beyond the junction, the trail climbs at a moderate pitch, crossing several muddy areas that have been spanned by wooden walkways. At 6 1/2 miles the trail descends toward the creek through a classic cathedral forest of pine, cedar, and hemlock. At the 7 mile, a series of walkways lead to the first crossing of Canyon Creek. The crossing limits the seasonal use of the upper end of the canyon. It is 70 ft wide, has no bridge and high water typically flows through the end of June. Once across Canyon Creek, a short, steep climb leads to a flat segment that traverses an oldgrowth hemlock forest. The trail crosses small creeks at the 8 and 8 1/2 mile before crossing Canyon Creek again at the 9. The trail segment between this creek crossing and the third, and final crossing at the 13 mile, traverses some of the wettest ground in the Canyon. Although there are many walkways along this section of trail it remains wild and pristine. The largest and most popular camping area in the Canyon is at the 12 mile, with sites for 6 to 8 backpacking tents. From the last creek crossing at the 13 mile the trail winds for another mile, passing the remnants of an old cabin, before junctioning with Trail 7 (elevation 4520 ft). This trail accesses both the Trout Creek trailhead and Parker Ridge.

Details

Length:
19 miles
Difficulty:
Intermediate
Time:
9 - 10 hours
Trailhead Elevation:
2620
Useful Map(s):
USGS: Smith Falls, Smith Peak

Map + Directions

Basic Directions

U.S. 95 north to Copeland. Turn west and cross the Kootenai Valley at Copeland to Road 417 (Westside Road). Follow Road 417 north to the trailhead, about 3/4 mile past the Long Canyon Creek bridge. Parking restricted to 6 passenger vehicles sites and and 3 stock truck or trailor sites. (No camping at trailhead.) Also see Trail 13 access.


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