North Chilco Peak is the northern peak of a long ridge called Chilco Mountain, about 30 miles from Coeur d'Alene, ID, and about 60 miles from Spokane, WA. Being close to a large population yet relatively unknown (more ATV'ers than hikers around), this trail is a hidden gem. The two summits (North and South Chilco) are among the highest in the Fernan Ranger District (encompassing the entire Coeur d'Alene Mountain Range). An easy 2-mile trail to the summit (if Main Access is used) gives 360-degree views of the Purcell Trench, Rathdrum Prairie, Coeur d'Alene, St. Joe, Cabinet, and Selkirk Mountain Ranges, and Lake Pend O'Reille. You can also observe the transition between forest zones as you gain elevation. No water is available along this route. There is adequate room for parking at either trailhead.
From Coeur d'Alene, drive north on US 95 approximately 15 miles to Bunco Road (in front of Silverwood Theme Park), turn right onto Bunco Road. This road turns left (continues straight as Nunn Road, take the left), then curves right. Continue on Forest Road 209 (dirt, good quality but some washboarding) for 6.8 miles. Don't turn off of this road onto the many dead-end logging roads. The trail begins at the signed junction between FR 209 (Clark Fork River) and NF 385 (Little North Fork Coeur d'Alene/Honeysuckle Campground). Parking is on the left.
This access is from the south and considerably longer but more varied in the views and transition zones. This trail would be more ideal for a longer day. It first ascends South Chilco, descends to the saddle between the two, then heads to the junction for the North Chilco summit trail, a one way distance of over 5 miles.
From Coeur d'Alene, drive north on US 95 approximately 6 miles to Lancaster Road, take a right onto Lancaster Road. Follow this road for the next 18 miles, turning left (becoming E Hayden Lake Road), then keeping left at the Y (becoming Triangle Road), and then heading into the mountains becoming NFS Road #437/Hayden Creek Road after E Burnt Cabin Road. The road comes to the confluence of Chilco and Conie Creeks before making a couple switchbacks up the ridge to Hudlow Saddle. Just before the saddle, take a left on NFS Road 406. The trailhead is one mile away at the Y (406 on left, some random logging road on right).
No red tape but keep an eye on campfire restrictions during the summer. Many times campfires are banned in the National Forest with violations carrying heavy fines.
The main trail is short enough to be done on a warm summer evening (3 hours) but there are good backcountry spots on the saddle between the peaks, about a mile and a quarter from the North Chilco summit junction, and a small spot (one, maybe two tents) along the main trail before the junction. Developed campgrounds back on US 95 at Silverwood are an option (RV hookups, showers, etc) and NFS campgrounds (car camping) at Honeysuckle (17 miles down the Little North Fork road, 7 spots) and Mokins Bay, on Hayden Lake, (on E Hayden Lake Road 5 miles from the junction with Triangle Rd mentioned in Other Access, 17 spots) are well maintained with running water and toilets.
Idaho Panhandle National Forest Campgrounds. Scroll down to Coeur d'Alene River Valley/Coeur d'Alene
The Death of an Ecosystem (PDF) An excellent report on the demise of the Western White Pine, a species once in abundance and characteristic of the interior northwest.
Trees of North Idaho A guide to the native trees of North Idaho. Also, downloadable (therefore printable so you can bring it with you!) PDF's for trees, wildflowers, and wildlife native to the area.
Idaho Panhandle National Forests Homepage Check here for news and conditions for the Kanisku, Coeur d'Alene, and St. Joe National Forests.
The Canfield Mountain Trail System (PDF) A brochure on the Canfield Mountain Trail System, a fun and challenging network of dirtbike and mountain bike trails, literally five minutes outside of Coeur d'Alene! Over 32 miles of trails ranging from easy rides to challenging hill climbs and descents allows anyone to take advantage of the natural beauty of the area. An ATV trail/road (the only one they are allowed on) leads right to the top of Canfield Butte with sweeping views of Lake Coeur d'Alene, Coeur d'Alene/Post Falls/Rathdrum, Rathdrum Prairie, and Hayden Lake. This can be done by foot in 45 minutes or by bike/ATV in 20! Most users nowadays are mountain bikers. It's renowned locally as some of the most challenging in the area. Get on it!