Cabinet Mountains

The Cabinet Mountains stretch from Bonners Ferry in Idaho almost all the way to Missoula in Montana. To the north they are bordered by the Purcell Mountains. Lake Pend Oreille and the Kootenai river separate the Cabinets from the Selkirks to the West, and in the south the dividing line is the Clark Fork river. Eastwards, the Cabinets extend to Flathead Lake and River. The mountains were christened by French explorers, who likened the rock formations to cabinets.

The Cabinets are distinctly higher than the Coeur d’Alene Mountains to the south, with the tallest peak, Snowshoe Peak, at 8,738 feet. That peak harbors the last remaining glacier in the Cabinets, Blackwell Glacier.

The majority of the Cabinet Mountains is in public hands, administered by the Forest Service (Idaho Panhandle, Lolo and Kootenai National Forest). The area in Idaho is largely unprotected, while the Montana side boasts the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness, protecting the highest peaks. The wilderness, created in 1964, consists of 94,000 acres, which is only about 5% of the Cabinets’ total expanse (an additional wilderness near Scotchman peak has been proposed).

PhotoTrailRatingDifficultyDistanceDurationElevation GainHigh PointLow PointTypeFeaturesStatusAdministrationFees and PermitsMapsOpen ToSeasonTrail#Resources
Bramlet Lake3.2 / 5Moderate6.8 mi 2:19 h1,838 ft5,637 ft3,900 ft
  • Out-and-back
  • Lake
  • Wilderness Area
  • Kootenai National Forest
  • None required
  • Howard Lake
  • Hikers
  • Dogs
  • Horses
  • June – November658
  • Cabinet Mountains Wilderness map
  • Char Falls2.6 / 5Easy1.2 mi 0:25 h98 ft4,194 ft4,051 ft
  • Out-and-back
  • Waterfall
  • Unprotected
  • Kaniksu National Forest
  • None required
  • Trestle Peak
  • Hikers
  • Dogs
  • Horses
  • Mountain Bikers
  • Best during snowmelt
    Engle Peak4.1 / 5More Difficult13.4 mi 5:37 h5,366 ft7,563 ft2,738 ft
  • Out-and-back
  • Lake
  • Mountain
  • Wilderness Area
  • Kootenai National Forest
  • None required
  • Noxon Rapids Dam
  • Howard Lake
  • Elephant Peak
  • Hikers
  • Dogs
  • Horses
  • June to October. All that ascent would be killer in showshoes…926, 932
  • Cabinet Mountains Wilderness map
  • Gem Lake3.9 / 5More Difficult3.2 mi 1:23 h1,149 ft5,790 ft4,536 ft
  • Out-and-back
  • Lake
  • Unprotected
  • Kaniksu National Forest
  • None required
  • Mount Pend Oreille
  • Hikers
  • Dogs
  • Horses
  • Mountain Bikers
  • May-November554
    Goat Mountain3.5 / 5More Difficult8.0 mi 4:28 h4,191 ft6,381 ft2,325 ft
  • Out-and-back
  • Mountain
  • Proposed Wilderness
  • Kaniksu National Forest
  • None required
  • Scotchman Peak
  • Hikers
  • Dogs
  • Horses
  • Year-around135
  • Friends of the Scotchman Peak Wilderness map
  • Horseshoe Pond4.3 / 5Strenuous3.0 mi 2:06 h895 ft6,038 ft5,236 ft
  • Out-and-back
  • Lake
  • Meadow
  • Roadless Area
  • Kootenai National Forest
  • None required
  • Scotchman Peak
  • Hikers
  • Dogs
  • July – October
  • Friends of the Scotchman Peak Wilderness map
  • Lake Darling – Pend Oreille Divide Loop3.8 / 5Moderate8.0 mi 3:18 h1,810 ft6,424 ft4,605 ft
  • Loop
  • Mountain
  • Lake
  • Meadow
  • Unprotected
  • Kaniksu National Forest
  • None required
  • Mount Pend Oreille
  • Hikers
  • Dogs
  • Horses
  • Mountain Bikers
  • June – November52, 67, 161
    Lake Estelle to Gem Lake Connector3.9 / 5Strenuous2.6 mi 2:07 h1,142 ft6,417 ft5,723 ft
  • Out-and-back
  • Mountain
  • Lake
  • Unprotected
  • Kaniksu National Forest
  • None required
  • Mount Pend Oreille
  • Smith Mountain
  • Hikers
  • Dogs
  • Horses
  • July – October
    Little Spar Lake3.4 / 5Moderate7.4 mi 3:30 h1,800 ft5,263 ft3,430 ft
  • Out-and-back
  • Grove
  • Lake
  • Meadow
  • Roadless Area
  • Kootenai National Forest
  • None required
  • Sawtooth Mountain
  • Hikers
  • Dogs
  • Horses
  • Mountain Bikers
  • July – October143
  • Friends of the Scotchman Peak Wilderness map
  • Spar Peak3.8 / 5More Difficult6.3 mi 3:08 h2,807 ft6,584 ft3,699 ft
  • Out-and-back
  • Grove
  • Meadow
  • Mountain
  • Roadless Area
  • Kootenai National Forest
  • None required
  • Sawtooth Mountain
  • Hikers
  • Dogs
  • Horses
  • July – October324
  • Friends of the Scotchman Peak Wilderness map
  • Three Lakes Loop (Blacktail Lake, Moose Lake, Lake Estelle)3.6 / 5Moderate14.6 mi 5:39 h2,729 ft6,543 ft4,900 ft
  • Lollipop
  • Mountain
  • Lake
  • Meadow
  • Unprotected
  • Kaniksu National Forest
  • None required
  • Mount Pend Oreille
  • Smith Mountain
  • Benning Mountain
  • Hikers
  • Dogs
  • Horses
  • Mountain Bikers
  • June – October24, 36, 213, 237