Lost Trail Pass 


William Clark’s journal entry for September 3rd, 1805 doesn’t admit that he and Meriwether Lewis may have been lost, but one remark gives us a hint: “This was not the creek our guide wished to have come upon.”

Lost Trail Pass sits on the border of Idaho and Montana, the border of the Salmon and the Bitterroot National Forests, and the separation of the Columbia River basin--the Salmon River to the south and the Bitterroot-Clark Fork to the north.

This pass did not stay lost, however, when outdoorsy Montanans started looking for world class outdoor adventure. There is good mountain biking in all directions, good cross country skiing along the continental decide, and good backcountry skiing in the vicinity of Saddle Mountain.

Lost Trail Pass is known for the unknown. It’s not a crowded spot, partially because no large cities are nearby; the closest would be Hamilton on the Montana side and Salmon on the Idaho side. But because of the close proximity of the Salmon River, the snowfall is great. The powder -- even better.

Powder hounds can take one lift ride up the nearby Lost Trail Powder Mountain for five bucks, then enjoy a variety of easy to challenging backcountry terrain. Avalanche gear is advised, though. For cross country skiers, there’s no groomed areas yet off of Saddle Mountain, but LT grooms below the parking lot for skate skiing.

Once the snow melts, LTP is the place for mountain biking. Intermediate trails run up to 25 miles in one direction. You can start at Saddle Mountain, come down to Warm Springs then to Painted Rocks Lake. Follow short loops for smooth, moderate grades past creeks. You won’t be bored; just don’t get lost.

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Reviews / Comments (3)

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Currently 23 degrees and cloudy, with a visibility of 1.24 miles. Chance of snow showers all day with winds around 8 mph and gusts around 13. Less than half an inch of new snow fell in the last 24 hours.

Posted by Jessica Murri on 02/24/2013 at 10:20 AM

This is a public observation from missoulaavalanche.com:

Partly cloudy, calm, snowy at times on Sunday, January 27th. Six to 12 inches of new snow.
"We dug two pits while we were touring. The first was the more interesting of the two. We dug about 30′ below the ridgeline on a NE aspect at around 8200′. The 6 or 7 inches of new snow was sluffing easily. We also got a CT12Q2 at around 12″ in three concurrent tests. This layer also failed at ECT15N. This slab was fist hardness, and everything below was one finger hardness. At around 3 feet, we got a CT23Q2 in 2 of 3 tests. In extended column, we got ECT23PQ1. Seeing a 3 foot thick extended column of dense snow pop out of the pit wall was unnerving. While we felt that it would be unlikely that we would trigger this layer, a cornice fall or sudden loading by the upper slab or sluffs could have provided a suitable trigger for this lower layer. The weak layer seemed to be a very thin layer of mildly faceted snow. Our second pit we dug on a SE aspect at around 7600′. We saw the same slab at 12″, but it failed with Q3, and propogated in an X in extended column. The lower weak layer from the first pit was not apparent. We did not see any notable natural avalanche activity."

Thanks, Doug Brinkerhoff!

Posted by Jessica Murri on 02/03/2013 at 7:31 AM

Four inches of new snow in the last 24 hours, with a temperature of 15 degrees. Snow depth is 47 inches. Missoula Avalanche calls risk of avalanche in the area LOW.

Posted by Jessica Murri on 01/27/2013 at 10:24 AM
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