- Selkirk Mountains
- Cutoff Peak, but it is dry
Starting at the gate, trail #17 continues along an old logging road for about half a mile, then heads uphill in the form of a singletrack, across a clearcut and back into the forest, and gains the ridge (Smith Ridge) in just shy of a mile. At the ridge is the intersection with trail #18, which moves northeast to southwest. The northeastern portion heads out to Triangulation Smith, another former fire lookout site, so turn right (southwest). The trail contours along the flank of Smith Ridge for about a mile, mostly shaded by alpine fir, and beautified by beargrass. Views are limited here, so enjoy the flowers, and, as the incline starts to pick up, watch out for Cutoff Peak looming massively ahead of you.
Luckily, though, the trail continues southeast around the flank of the mountain, climbing steadily with constant views of the Parker Range to the east, and eventually switchbacking up Cutoff’s southern face. You end up emerging out onto the top from the south and the trail meanders between rocky outcroppings northwards for about a quarter mile to the dilapidated cabin serving the fire lookout crews a long, long time ago. Only the footings of the lookout tower remain, but the views couldn’t be better!
Looking north across Smith Canyon you can see peaked Shorty Peak, whose lookout tower is still intact today, to the west is the bare rocky hump of Red Top, which also once featured a lookout tower, and to the northeast, extending from Cutoff Peak, is the remainder of the Smith ridge, stretching out to Triangulation Smith, the last peak of the ridge and also once a lookout tower site. To the east the Parker ridge rises mightily from the Kootenai River Valley and extends south, with the distinct humps and peaks clearly identifiable as Parker Peak, Long Mountain, and Pyramid Peak.
- A trail to Triangulation Smith, also a former fire lookout, starts at the same trailhead