Shorty Peak via Italian Ridge

Situated just a few miles south of the Canadian border, the Shorty Peak lookout tower perches atop 6,500-foot Shorty Peak with commanding 360-degree views across the northernmost parts of the American Selkirks, well into Canada, and eastwards across the Kootenai River Valley and the Purcells. It was refubished in 2005 and can be rented during the summer months.
  • Selkirk Mountains
3.2 out of 5
Moderate (uphill)
6.0 miles
2:00 hours moving time (Hiking)
Elevation Gain
1,360 feet
High Point
6,504 feet (Shorty Peak)
Low Point
5,261 feet (Trailhead)
  • Mountain
  • Structure
  • Meadow
  • Outing Type
  • Daytrip
  • Trail Type
  • Out-and-back
  • Trailbed
    Packed dirt, loose rocks, granite slab
    95, 99
  • There is a spring about two-thirds up, off to the west about half a mile.
  • Camping
    • You can rent the lookout tower during the summer months. It accomodates 2 persons, featuring 2 twin beds.
    • Excellent
  • Kaniksu National Forest
  • Status
  • Unprotected
  • Maps
  • Shorty Peak
  • Fees & Permits
  • None required
  • ()
    Open To
  • Hikers
  • Dogs
  • Mountain Bikers
  • Horses
  • ()
  • From Bonners Ferry head north on US-95 for about 15 miles, then take Highway 1 north for another 2 miles. Turn left onto Copeland Road and head west across the Kootenai valley, about 4 miles. Bear right when the road merges with Westside Road #417 and continue northwest for 9 miles. The road will eventually turn into FR #281 (make sure to stay left around the switchback on the blacktopped road). Continue for another 9 miles , with most of the road blacktopped, though a few potholes and some buckling shouild be expected. When you get to the fork with #655 bear right, taking 655 for 1.5 miles, then make a sharp right at the switchback, taking #282 for 4 miles to the trailhead in the saddle below Shorty Peak.
  • Season
    June to November (rental July to September)
      July 21, 2017

      Shorty Peak is an easy uphill hike with a rewarding destination. The trail follows the spine of Italian Ridge for the entire time, taking the shape of a generous single-track, except for the very bottom, where it is a double-track. It is uphill most of the time, though, with a short reprieve in the middle section where the trail just meanders along a plateau to a fork. The downhill branch of the fork leads to a season-long spring sprouting from a rubble field below Shorty Peak.

      But for the upper reaches, the path is well shaded by a fir forest that features a dense understory of beargrass and huckleberries. The views from the top are absolutely breathtaking, and Naughty even found a playmate (standing in the center of the balcony of the lookout tower).

      Alternate Routes

        Things to Consider

        • Mileage includes sidetrip to the spring

        Not so great

          The trail starts out as a double-track, but later morphs into a single-track
          The beargrass-lined trail continues uphill at a steady incline, following the spine of the ridge
          Fork to the spring below Shorty Peak
          Beargrass meadow
          Lookout tower
          The last bit is a bit steeper
          Lone Tree Peak. It appears to have lost some of its loneliness
          View south towards the Parker Ridge, Long Canyon, and Smith Creek. The hump in the front to the right is Red Top
          Red Top in front, much of the American Selkirks in the background
          View east with the Purcells in the background
          Privy, with Red Top behind it and Joe Peak to the right
          Meadow near the spring
          Couldn’t find the obligatory carcass, so we’re switching to the obligatory grouse


          1. Mike says:

            Headed up there next week for a stay. Glad to hear the spring is still running!

            1. naughtyhiker says:

              It had a pretty good flow. Seems to be a popular rental. Enjoy the time there, the view is phenomenal!

          2. naughtyhiker says:

            And the views are even better at some of the other lookout sites. There was a lookout on Red Top and on West Fork Mountain (on the privy photo, West Fork is slightly to the left of Joe Mtn) and you actually have line of sight of Shorty from those places. The ridge to the left of Red Top is the Smith ridge and there were 2 lookouts up there, Triangulation Smith and Cutoff Peak (a dilapidated cabin is still standing on Cutoff) that also have line of sight. It’s easy to make out Shorty Peak from those place because of the prominent lookout tower at the top. I’ll have trail guides to the other place out in the next couple of weeks. As you said, it’s gorgeous country…

          3. montucky says:

            Those are some gorgeous views! I will have to put that on my “to do” list!

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