Star Peak via Historic Big Eddy Trail #999

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAStar Peak can be climbed from several trails –  the easiest access is the Big Eddy Trail #999 which starts near the Clark Fork River and climbs into the heavens. Although Star Peak acquired its current name several years ago, long time residents, and some old maps, will know this as “Squaw Peak”.  Climbing a little over 4,000 feet, the elevation gain is greater than on Scotchman Peak, but doing it over 5 miles (one way) the grade is more forgiving, slightly.

#999 has replaced the lower part of #998, an old mining road that switchbacked through the heavily forested lower slopes, with limite views and steep, cobbley stretches. The newer trail, cut by FSPW volunteers, is single track and reaches some great views within a third of a mile from the trail head. #999 intersects #998 beyond where it becomes single track about half way up the mountain. From there, it’s a steady climb through forest sprinkled liberally with huckleberry bushes. Just below the lookout, you will crest a saddle just below the summit and the sight of Billiard Table Mountain will take your breath away.  During the final climb, the views continue to expand into an absolutely stunning panorama.  By the time you are at the old fire lookout, you will know – this is the top of the world!

Highway 200 provides year round access to the trailhead, but beware – snow lingers well into summer on the highest slopes. In the winter this is a difficult but extremely rewarding snowshoe trip – if your thighs are up to the task.  (Only those individuals well experienced in backcountry winter travel should undertake a winter trip on Star Peak.)

If you go: Bring good boots or trail shoes and plenty of water, as the route is “dry” with no on trail water source.  (A small stream runs nearby the lowest parts of the trail).  Snacks or lunch, layers of extra clothing and rain gear are always advisable in the mountains. You will appreciate good binoculars and a camera.

Driving Directions to the Trailhead: The trail head is just off of Montana Highway 200 45 miles east of Sandpoint, ID and 45 miles west of Thompson Falls, MT . Near MP 6.5 ± is the intersection of Forest Road #2292, which turns away from the river up the hill. Up the road 100 yards, there is a switchback and the trail head is in that corner. There is room for about four or five cars near the trail head. It’s marked with a brown gilsonite lath with the number 999 on it. Have fun!