Pacific Northwest Trail offers lesser traveled trek through Idaho, Washington

About 20 people hike the length of the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail each year, starting at Glacier National Park and trekking 1,200 miles to the Pacific Ocean.

The trail doesn’t have the cachet of the Pacific Crest or Appalachian trails, which attract hundreds of hikers who go the whole distance, said Matt McGrath, the trail’s program manager. But the Forest Service is looking for ways to publicize and increase use of the newer and lesser known Pacific Northwest trail, which incorporates gems of the Idaho Panhandle and northeast Washington, including the Salmo-Priest Wilderness; the historic towns of Metaline Falls and Northport; and the steep ridges of the Kettle Crest range.

“Most of this is passing through a lot of remote areas – places people don’t get a chance to see traveling the roads,” said Jason Kirchner, a spokesman for the Idaho Panhandle National Forests. “It always feels like the deep, dark woods to me.”

First conceived of in 1970, the trail was established as a national scenic trail by Congress in 2009. Even though it’s had an official designation for five years, parts of the trail are still being developed and refined, McGrath said.

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