Best Trail that Doesn't Exist

Bitterroot Mountains

    Photo: Roger Peterson/flickr

The best thing about the Lolo Trail, an ­ancient American Indian route over the rugged Bitterroot Mountains between Idaho’s Panhandle and western Montana, is that no one knows exactly where it is. Lewis and Clark traveled it in September 1805 and experienced the coldest, hungriest leg of their three-year journey. But use of the trail faded, and its route along the high ridgelines was all but forgotten. Nowadays, we know that it roughly parallels Route 12 through the Lolo and Clearwater national forests. Hunt for clues at the National Forest Service’s Lolo Pass Visitor Center (208-942-1234). With a little map work, you can find scattered traces of the route—or get lost with a fly rod on Montana’s Lolo Creek or a kayak on Idaho’s Class III–IV Lochsa River.

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