Located east of Priest Lake, Idaho, Mount Roothaan offers great vistas of the Selkirk Crest. Offering views of North Idaho’s most scenic lake a mile below, the rocky alpine terrain is "quintessential Idaho." Gunsight Peak, Hunt Peak and Hunt Lake are just to the south, and the famous Chimney Rock
looms to the north. Named after a Dutch Jesuit priest of the mid-1800s, Mount Roothaan is both a family destination and a gateway to great technical climbing opportunities at nearby Chimney Rock. One can drive your high-clearance vehicle to the old lookout at Horton Ridge (elevation 6,091 feet), then hike 1,235 vertical feet over 1-1/2 miles to the summt. Rock-hopping and easy scrambling makes this hike a lot of fun.
From U.S. Highway 2 at Priest River, Idaho, drive north on Highway 57 about 23 miles north, then go east towards Coolin, ID. After about 5-1/4 miles, turn east onto Cavanaugh Bay Road. Drive 3 miles to East Shore Road, then go along the east shoreline of Priest Lake 4-1/2 miles to Hunt Creek Road No. 24 (just across the bridge).
Go east (uphill) on Road 24 to the intersection of Road 2, then go left and go 1-1/2 miles to Road 25. All of the roads are well marked with wooden signposts; you don't even need a map. Drive straight uphill a mile to a fork in the road, bear right and go 1/3 mile to another fork, then bear left on it. So far, the gravel road is quite smooth and is negotiable by any vehicle. However, you soon enter a small forest burn area. The stretch along the last 1-1/2-miles of Road 25 is quite rough and washed out, so you should consider driving a 4-wheel-drive vehicle. See the photo posted below to view the upper road condition.
The parking area at the 6,091’ level can accommodate about 10 vehicles. The site of the old Horton Ridge lookout is there, with only the four concrete foundations remaining in the center of the parking area.
No permits are required. During the summer, no campfires are allowed; look for the yellow notice posted at the East Shore Road/ Hunt Creek Road No. 24 intersection. Snowmobiles are not allowed past the Horton Ridge parking area because of Caribou habitat.
When To Climb
June into mid-October. You can easily see whether there’s snow on the Selkirk Crest from the Priest Lake shoreline, before you drive ~50 minutes up gravel roads to the trailhead.
There are a few small campsites on the saddle between Mount Roothaan and Chimney Rock. Bring your own water.
There are many campgrounds along Priest Lake itself – check them out at Idaho Parks
and Priest Lake Campgrounds
The National Weather Service
maintains an automated weather station at Hidden Lake, ID (elevation 5,039 feet). It’s just to the north of Priest Lake; click on the “X” at Observation Station #77.
The Idaho Panhandle Avalanche Center
publishes a backcountry forecast.
Also, you can contact the U.S. Forest Service Sandpoint Ranger District Office
, 1500 Hwy 2, Suite 110, Sandpoint, ID, 83864-9509; telephone (208) 263-5111; FAX (208) 265-6670.