Cabinet Mountains

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The Cabinet Mountains are primarily a Montana range that extends into Idaho. The range is located southeast of Bonners Ferry and is bounded on the north by US-2 and the Kootenai River. on the west by US-2 and US-95, on the southeast by Lake Pend Oreille and to the south by ID-200 and the Clark Fork River.

The Cabinet range shares many similarities with the Purcell and Selkirk ranges. The basic foundation of the Cabinet Mountains are Precambrian Belt Supergroup rocks, which were carved and shaped by Pleistocene glaciation. Many of the peaks are high dome-shaped mountains, while a few, like Scotchman Peak, are sharp, sheer-edged, summits reminiscent of the North Cascades. Summit elevations range between 6,000 and 7,000 feet; 7,009-foot Scotchman Peak is the highest summit in the Idaho Cabinets. East of the border, the Montana Cabinet Mountain peaks are considerably higher than their Idaho counterparts.

The Panhandle National Forest administers the Cabinet Mountains and, although much of the range has been logged in the past, a lot of highquality country still exists for hikers and climbers. There are many miles of inviting, well-maintained hiking trails which traverse high treeless ridge lines and a few stream bottoms. Most Cabinet peaks are rated Class 1, but do not let this prejudice your judgment. These are big, beautiful mountains, and are more challenging than you might think.

Mount Pend Oreille 6,755 (Class 1)

The highest Cabinet Peak in Idaho is a bib dome-shaped mountain with an extraordinary grass-covered summit, which features astonishing views in all directions. The summit is reached from either Lightning Creek or Lunch Peak [Approach: (A)(l)(a) or (A)(4)(a)]. USGS Mount Pend Oreille 15-minute.


Lunch Peak 6,414 feet (Class 1)

Lunch Peak is the southernmost peak on the main north/south ridge line that forms the northern section of the Idaho Cabinet Mountains. The mountain serves as a fire lookout site and is reached by road [Approach: (A)(2.1)]. Even with the road to its summit, the peak is an excellent goal because of its tremendous view. Hike to this summit from Darling Lake or Mount Pend Oreille (avoid the road). USGS Mount Pend Oreille 15-minute.

Scotchman No. 2 6,989 feet (Class 3)

This beautiful and rugged summit is located 2.0 miles northeast of Scotchman Peak, almost directly on the Idaho/Montana border. Although the summit can probably be reached from the west via either Morris or Savage creeks, the only route information available was from a climber who made the long, tedious traverse of the rugged l ridge line between Scotchman Peak and Scotchman No. 2. This route involves considerable climbing just to descend Scotchman Peak's north ridge. Allow plenty of time for this trip. USGS Clark Fork 15-minute.

Scotchman Peak 7,009 feet (Class 1)

This summit, probably the hardest Class 1 peak in the state, is a craggy monster built of tilting metamorphic rocks that seem ready to slip down into Montana at any minute. The views of the"big" Cabinet peaks in Montana are awesome. To reach the highest point in the Cabinet Range, take FST-65 to the summit [Approach: (A)(l.~)(a)]. The trail is steep and rocky, and roughly 5.0 miles.


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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