Upper Priest River/American Falls
Take a magical trek through centuries-old cedars and ancient hemlock, in Idaho's portion of the world's only inland temperate rainforest.
- Location: Upper Priest River
- Status: Proposed Wilderness
- Distance: 16 miles round trip
- Elevation: 1,400 ft. total
- Difficulty: Easy
- Maps: ICL Guide to the Selkirks; USGS Quad - Continental Mountain; USFS Upper Priest River Trail #308 Map; USFS Upper Priest River Trail #308 Elevation Profile
- More information: 100 Hikes in the Inland Northwest; Trails of the Wild Selkirks; USFS - Upper Priest River Trail (#308)
Just south of the Canadian border and east of the Salmo-Priest Wilderness Area, this mystical trail begins in the southern portion of a proposed wilderness area and one of the largest tracts of intact old-growth forest in the Pacific Northwest. Flowing south through the world's only snow-fed inland temperate rainforest, this lowland route follows the upper Priest River to the 40-foot cascade at American Falls, which marks the river's entrance into the United States.
You pass through a climax forest relatively untouched by fire for centuries, a landscape of ancient hemlocks and cedars up to 10 feet in diameter covered in dense mosses, lichens and fungi. This unique area of the Idaho Panhandle is home to the endangered grizzly bear and woodland caribou, as well as black bears, deer, moose and mountain goats. Following a route through a healthy variety of native ferns and berries, Upper Priest River Trail #308 extends 8 miles to a large, peaceful campground within earshot of the river, about 0.5 mile south of the falls.
From Priest River, travel north 36 miles on Highway 57 to reach Nordman. Continue on Road 302 approximately 14 miles to Granite Pass and the junction with Road 1013. Take Road 1013 11 miles to the signed trailhead for Upper Priest River Trail #308 on the west side of the road.