Star Peak

Star Peak, formerly known as Squaw Peak, makes for great winter hiking due to easy access off MT-200. Be prepared for a fair bit of ascent, though, as the elevation gain amounts to 4000 feet. The views from the lookout, and those along the way, make it totally worth every effort. There is no water, so better plan for an early morning hike or hike in the cooler season. Naughty loved it!
  • Cabinet Mountains
3.3 out of 5
More Difficult (steep)
7.5 miles
4:10 hours moving time (Snowshoeing)
Elevation Gain
4,000 feet
High Point
6,181 feet (Star Peak)
Low Point
2,331 feet (trailhead)
  • Mountain
  • Structure
  • Meadow
  • Outing Type
  • Daytrip
  • Trail Type
  • Out-and-back
  • Trailbed
    Packed dirt, talus
    998, 999
  • None, except for Big Eddy Creek along the first quartermile
  • Camping
    • Big Eddy Campground near the trailhead
    • Very good
  • Kaniksu National Forest
  • Kootenai National Forest
  • Status
  • Proposed Wilderness
  • Maps
  • Heron
  • Fees & Permits
  • None required
  • ()
    Open To
  • Hikers
  • Horses
  • Dogs
  • ()
  • The trailhead is easily accessible off MT-200 just north of Big Eddy Campground. Coming from Clark Fork, take the first left just after Milepost 6 in Montana. Take the dirt road up to the first curve in the road, about 100 yards. There is signage and room for maybe 3-4 cars.
  • Season
    January 13, 2019

    Make sure you start this hike on the newer Big Eddy trail, labeled #999, rather than the older #998, which is a mining track open to ATVers. The new trail is called “Historic Big Eddy” trail and is a singletrack that leads through thickish forest to Big Eddy Creek, but rather quickly leaves it behind and ascends a flank of Star Peak. There will not be another water source.

    Views on this newer trail open up fairly quickly, particularly across the Clark Fork Valley and the Coeur d’Alene Mountains. At around 3500 feet it was time to put on snowshoes (the trailhead is at around 2300 feet). The ascent continues, frequently using old mining or skid tracks as the fog got thicker all around. Near the 4000-foot level we poked through the fog and spectacular views of the Clark Fork followed. On the downside, the bright sun melted the top layer of snow, which stubbornly stuck to the snowshoes.

    At the 4500-foot level, the trail reunites with the old Big Eddy trail (#998), where ATVers must turn around. The snow here quickly got so deep that it was impossible to make out the trail. We simply followed the ridge straight up to the peak. If you’re hiking this during the summer, you’ll likely do all the sweeping switchbacks, which might add a mile or two roundtrip.

    The views at the top were phenomenal, with the lookout tower and many of the windswept trees encrusted in snow. The Bull River Valley was buried beneath a thick layer of fog. We had outstanding views of Billard Table Mountain, though, and Lake Pend Oreille! Highly recommend it.

    Alternate Routes

    • Starting right from MT-200 you could take the ATV trail #998. It will eventually meet up with #999
    • You can also hike up to Star Peak from the Bull River Valley, either via Pillick Ridge, Napoleon Gulch or Star Gulch

    Things to Consider

      Not so great

        Big Eddy Creek
        Views of the Clark Fork open up quickly
        The trail makes use of old skid roads
        Views towards Lake Pend Oreille
        Clark Fork
        Lots of frosty trees before breaking through the fog
        Breaking through the fog at around 4000 feet of elevation
        Looking down on clouds above the Clark Fork River Valley
        All remnants of trail are buried beneath feet of snow
        The Coeur d’Alene Mountains in the distance
        Lots of snow-covered trees shedding their load; watch out!
        The trees retreat on approach to the peak
        The final climb
        Just beneath the top
        A first glimpse of the lookout
        Star Peak lookout
        There are many wind-and-snow-sculpted trees on the peak
        Fog hovering over the Bull River Valley. The Berray lookout is to the right in the distance
        Billiard Table Mountain
        Star Peak lookout from the sunnier side
        View from Star Peak towards Lake Pend Oreille
        Naughty enjoying the snow
        That little speck in the distance is Naughty being naughty
        The sun poking through the clouds on the way back
        Clark Fork on the way back