Posted by: columbiahighlands | July 29, 2011

Hungry Mountain

Hungry Mountain from Gleason Mountain. Photo: Aaron Theisen.

On the east side of the Shedroof Divide, the north-south ridge that separates the Pend Oreille River drainage to the west from the Priest River drainage to the east, Hungry Mountain Roadless Area encompasses an interconnected series of steep-walled, forested ridges that plunge into creeks and marshes.

Groves of immense old-growth western redcedar, western hemlock, white pine, douglas-fir and western larch that escaped the great wildfires of 1926 grow amidst healthy second-growth forest. Underneath grows a great green understory: huckleberry, honeysuckle, twinflower, ferns, snowberry and the platter-sized leaves of thimbleberry.

Apartment-sized boulders, their edges rounded down by the slow, grinding movement of glaciation, lie scattered about the ridges. These rocks, coupled with the profusion of birch and aspen and the green understory, recall the ancient eastern hardwood forests of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains.

An extensive, and surprisingly well-maintained, system of trails offers numerous options for multi-day treks. Stateline Trail #162 climbs, first gradually and then relentlessly, up and across the west flank of Gleason Mountain, offering the occasional peek-a-boo view of Priest Lake. Kalispell Rock-North Baldy Trail #103 offers sweeping vistas from beargrass-clad balds and an old Forest Service observation point that predates even fire lookouts.

Recreationists seeking solitude, challenging terrain and sweeping views of primeval forest should explore this little-known neighbor of the Salmo-Priest Wilderness.



  1. It’s so nice to read about that area: I love the roadless areas so much! I really like the first photo! Every year I understand the roadless areas better and appreciate them more. I’ve very concerned about all of the forces that are now attacking them!

  2. There truly is some special quality that one feels in a roadless area compared to an area where the hand of man is evident. I agree that each roadless area is a unique world in itself. Between northeast Washington, north Idaho, and northwest Montana, we have some really fantastic, yet underappreciated, roadless areas. I’d love to see them protected from the various threats they all face.

  3. I have been there many times, bellow The big meadow there is a trial to take to Icy Springs. Only water around and it comes right out of the ground. VERY TOUGH PACK!! to get Hungry. I wood park at Gleason Mountain and hike from there, It is well worth the hike.

    • Thanks for sharing your stories of the area! That area around Hungry and Gleason Mountains has a ton of exploring possibilities. In fact, I think some of the trails are featured in the new Day Hiking Eastern Washington book by Rich Landers and Craig Romano. I hope to get back there this summer.

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