Rathdrum Mountain

Rathdrum Mountain is to Rathdrum what Canfield Butte is to Coeur d’Alene: A great workout, absolutely fantastic views, and a trailhead right in town!
  • Selkirk Mountains
3.4 out of 5
Moderate (uphill all the way)
13.3 miles
6:28 hours moving time (Snowshoeing)
Elevation Gain
2,522 feet
High Point
4,998 feet (Rathdrum Mountain)
Low Point
2,541 feet (Trailhead)
  • Mountain
  • Outing Type
  • Daytrip
  • Trail Type
  • Lollipop
  • Trailbed
    Decommissioned forest road
  • There is a brook near the parking lot, but that’s about it
  • Camping
    • Not allowed. No fires, fireworks, or smoking either.
    • Good
  • City of Rathdrum
  • Status
  • City Park
  • Maps
  • Rathdrum
  • Fees & Permits
  • None required
  • ()
    Open To
  • Hikers
  • Dogs
  • Mountain Bikers
  • (Dogs must be leashed)
  • The trailhead is located in Rathdrum. Take McCartney Street off Highway 53 (this is not quite a mile south of the Hwy 41/53 junction). After 500 feet turn right onto Oneida Street. After a quarter mile, turn left onto Reservoir Road. After another quarter mile or so turn left onto Barrett Road. That road ends at the signed parking area in another quarter mile.
  • Season
      December 19, 2020

      Rathdrum Mountain and Mount Spokane feature prominently in North Idaho’s skyline. If you drive westwards on I-90 in Coeur d’Alene from the Sherman exit, you’ll be staring right at Rathdrum Mountain for most of the drive through town. Moreover, in late spring these two prominent mountains serve as great long-distance barometers of snow levels at varying heights, with Rathdrum at 5k and Spokane just shy of 6k.

      A maze of old forest roads leads up Rathdrum Mountain, so a GPS may be helpful to navigate the multitude of forks. The trail commences at the parking lot entrance, next to the brook, taking the form of a forest road (in fact, it is the blocked-off continuation of the road you drove in on). The trail immediately climbs in a winding fashion. If you take all the proper forks, you’ll end up at the Post Falls Radio Tower in about 3.5 miles, mostly through light forest with an occasional view across Rathdrum Prairie. Leaving the tower behind, the trail heads straight north and continues to climb. It reaches another fork in a mile, with the option to go either way. We swung a left on the way up, with the trail contouring along a bit, switchbacking twice (good views!) and reaching Rathdrum Mountain Road (a forest road) in a bit over half a mile.

      Turn right onto Rathdrum Mountain Road and follow it uphill. It makes an extensive detour along the western face of Rathdrum Mountain, while completely hemmed in with no views whatsoever. In fact, the snow-laden boughs were leaning heavily into the trail. Following a switchback, you get to traverse the western face again, going the other way, but higher up. The views start to improve when you “turn the corner” to Rathdrum’s southeastern flank and the views of Lake Coeur d’Alene get quite majestic. Continuing at a steady climb, you reach another fork at the seven-mile mark. On the downhill route we took this route northeastwards, which means a grand excursion along Rathdrum’s southeastern flank and the smaller peak on Rathdrum’s eastern side, before returning to the junction at the 4.5-mile mark.

      First, however, it is uphill for another half mile an a good twin-track to a spot where the trail drops down and points northeastwards, while the peak is due west. Having done so much climbing through deep snow, this didn’t seem right, so we bushwhacked to the peak, a few hundred yards uphill. It was steep but quite straightforward and probably harder without so much snow on the ground covering the underbrush.

      The windswept mountaintop has everything you could hope for in terms of views, which includes a slew of lakes: Twin Lakes (closest), Pend Oreille, Hayden, Coeur d’Alene, and Hauser, among others. Also very prominent are the downhill ski chutes on Mount Spokane.

      Alternate Routes

      • There are a couple of short loops at the trailhead: Storybrook is a short loop along the brook and another loop (Watershed Loop) starts at the disc golf course area
      • Alternative access points are from the Twin Lakes side through Inland Empire Paper property; permits required ($2.50 for walk-in; $15 drive-in)

      Things to Consider

        Not so great

          Most of the trail is on old logging roads
          Halfway up is the Post Falls Radio Tower
          The network of logging road is extensive and can be confusing
          View across the Rathdrum Prairie towards Pend Oreille and Chilco
          The northwestern portion of the hike was a bit hemmed in: no views
          In the upper reaches, the views get phenomenal
          Thankfully we brought our snowshoes
          Dark clouds emerged in the afternoon
          Reaching the very top required a bit of bushwhacking
          The eastern flank of Rathdrum, which we crossed on the return trip
          Windswept tree near the top
          Naughty taking in the view. Pend Oreille in the distance
          Lots of lake views. You should be able to spot Lake Coeur d’Alene, Pend Oreille, Spirit Lake, Twin Lakes, and the Hauser lakes from the top
          Lake Coeur d’Alene
          Hayden Lake
          Snow sculptures on top of Rathdrum Mountain. Mount Spokane in the distance and Twin Lake to the right
          A clear view of Mount Spokane. Note the ski runs
          Naughty looking for squirrels. No such luck!
          View of Rathdrum Mountain from Fernan Lake Natural Area