Three Scotchman Peak Mountain Goats Seen on Glorious September Friday!
Craggy Scotchman Peak (elevation 7,009 feet). Pocket of snow still exists on September 1st!
What a wonderful day to be in the Cabinet Mountains of Northern Idaho! The winds were light and the air was cleansed of forest fire smoke, so one could see 70 miles in all directions.
About 1/2 hour from the summit, I passed two hikers that were coming down whether they had seen any goats. They said no, they hadn't, but they were talking a lot and I could hear them coming down the trail 10 minutes before I saw them.
Once past the treeline, I looked over my shoulder and saw three Mountain Goats on a nearby knob. They were 150 yards away, and allowed me to walk a bit closer for photographs.
Three Scotchman Peak Mountain Goats are visible (two on ridge, and one at bottom-right).
I proceeded to the old lookout site (where the USGS brass marker is), and then to the true summit about 75 yards to the north. After 45 minutes of taking in the views, one of the goats had followed me and appeared at the lookout. He gradually moved closer and closer, and joined me on the summit only 10 feet away! He was probably wanting my salty shirt (which I kept), and then moved down off the summit to the north.
Mountain Goat on summit, 10 feet away! Lake Pend Oreille is in the background.
On the way back down, I passed the other two goats on the rocky ridge above me. If you want to increase your chances of seeing these magnificent animals, keep quiet above the treeline and LOOK AROUND.
Reward Yourself With Magnificent Views
The hike up Scotchman Peak Trail 65 is a steady, uphill climb. The unmarked trail is in good condition and is easy to follow all the way up. I counted ~27 ea. blowdowns (up to 15" in diameter, and all under 5,600' elevation). However, they don't impede your progress unless you're on a mountain bike.
Scotchman Peak Trail 65 ascends up left ridge, past grassy patch at the top-left, and over the rocky ridge to the 7,009' summit.
The first good viewpoint is at elevation ~5,700 at the base of a large southwest-facing grassy slope. Lake Pend Oreille and the Clark Fork River Valley lie far below.
Clark Fork and Lake Pend Oreille, as viewed from the grassy southwest-facing slope at elevation ~6,000 ft.
You hike up into the trees a bit more at elevation ~6,000 ft, then break out above the treeline through platter-size slabs of sandstone. Check out the patch of snow at the bottom of the shady (west) face of Scotchman Peak, and look for the famous Scotchman Peak Mountain Goats!
A few wooden remnants of the old fire lookout tower lie on a false summit 75 yards south of the true summit. If the weather is windy, you can hunker down in a small rock wind shelter that even has a seat! Once at the true summit (the center of the three knobs), you can see the Cabinet Mountains of Montana, the distant peaks of British Columbia, Canada to the NNW, the Selkirk Crest near Priest Lake, ID, and the Clark Fork Valley.
Mtn Goat descending from summit to NNW.
On this day the winds were light (5 MPH out of the SE), and the 4 distant forest fires that I could see were not putting out that much smoke. It took me 3-1/2 hours to climb up, and 1-3/4 hours to descend. Be sure to bring trekking poles to save your knees, one gallon of water, and your camera.
I'd have to say that Scotchman Peak is my favorite 7,000' mountain in the North Idaho/Eastern Washington area. The views are better than WA's Abercrombie Mtn, Hall Mtn, or Copper Butte, and better than ID's Mount Roothaan (near Chimney Rock). The view of three states, plus Canada, is hard to beat, and the seeing the Mountain Goats is really special!
View SSW at Clark Fork, ID and the old fire lookout site. Note mountain goat to the right of the lookout site, heading over to the photographer on the summit!
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