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John Lehrman

William Clark’s journal entry for September 3rd, 1805 doesn’t admit that he and Meriwether Lewis may have been lost, but one remark gives us a hint: “This was not the creek our guide wished to have come upon.”

Lost Trail Pass sits on the border of Idaho and Montana, the border of the Salmon and the Bitterroot National Forests, and the separation of the Columbia River basin--the Salmon River to the south and the Bitterroot-Clark Fork to the north.

This pass did not stay lost, however, when outdoorsy Montanans started looking for world class outdoor adventure. There is good mountain biking in all directions, good cross country skiing along the continental decide, and good backcountry skiing in the vicinity of Saddle Mountain.

Lost Trail Pass is known for the unknown. It’s not a crowded spot, partially because no large cities are nearby; the closest would be Hamilton on the Montana side and Salmon on the Idaho side. But because of the close proximity of the Salmon River, the snowfall is great. The powder -- even better.

Powder hounds can take one lift ride up the nearby Lost Trail Powder Mountain for five bucks, then enjoy a variety of easy to challenging backcountry terrain. Avalanche gear is advised, though. For cross country skiers, there’s no groomed areas yet off of Saddle Mountain, but LT grooms below the parking lot for skate skiing.

Once the snow melts, LTP is the place for mountain biking. Intermediate trails run up to 25 miles in one direction. You can start at Saddle Mountain, come down to Warm Springs then to Painted Rocks Lake. Follow short loops for smooth, moderate grades past creeks. You won’t be bored; just don’t get lost.


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