Cooks Peak

Cooks Peak stands guard, literally, over the divide between the Myrtle Creek and Snow Creek drainages. It is a former fire lookout, with the footings of the tower still intact and a decaying cabin rapidly disappearing. The bare peak serves up phenomenal views of the surrounding mountains, including Roman Nose and Myrtle Peak, and the Kootenai River Valley.

Location Selkirk Mountains
Rating 3.3 out of 5
Difficulty Moderate (some uphill hiking)
Distance 2.7 miles
Duration 1:03 hours moving time (hiking)
Elevation Gain 745 feet
High Point 5,998 feet (Cooks Peak)
Low Point 5,189 feet (Trailhead)
Trail Type Out-and-back
Trailbed Packed dirt
Trail# 236
Water None
Status Unprotected
Administration Kaniksu National Forest
Conditions Very good
Permits None required
Camping Not available
Maps USGS Roman Nose
Trailhead On US-95, take the Deep Creek exit about 2 miles south of Bonners Ferry (going north, this is shortly after the Mirror Lake golf course). Follow Deep Creek Loop westwards for 3 miles, then turn right onto Lions Den Road. After .6 miles Lions Den will turn into West Side Road at a right angle. Continue north for another 1.5 miles, then turn left onto Snow Creek Road #402 (Snow Creek is a gravel road with a fair amount of washboarding). Continue for 9.3 miles, then turn right onto #661 just before the Bottleneck Lake trailhead. Continue uphill for 2.5 miles, then take the road to the right (signed for the #236 trail). Follow it a very short way in and park at the fork. There is room for 3-4 cars. Alternatively, continue uphill for about a third of a mile (at the next fork take a right since the left is completely overgrown, then take a left at the next fork) to the trailhead. There is only room for one car and a high-clearance vehicle is advisable.

Google Directions (48.709521, -116.557298)

Season June – November
Squirrel Density Phenomenal!
Features Mountaintop, Structure
Distance From
  • Coeur d’Alene 87.8 miles
  • Lewiston 201.5 miles
  • Sandpoint 42.3 miles
  • Seattle 392.0 miles
  • Spokane 114.2 miles
Resources
Nearby Hikes
Date August 12, 2017

You can drive up this road for a third of a mile to the upper trailheadFrom the lower trailhead, follow the forest road uphill, taking a right at the first fork. There is a sign for trail #236 there, but the arrow has been blasted away. Taking a left follows an old overgrown logging road eastwards through an old clearcut now overgrown with larch saplings. It eventually ends and you’d have to bushwhack through the dense larch growth uphill towards the ridge, eventually emerging onto the forest road again. You could follow that east, but it also will end where the clearcut ends and a steep ATV trail heads uphill to the ridge where the single-track is. There are some nice views along this trail, but nothing better really than what you’ll get at the peak anyway and thus we don’t recommend this route.

Inside of the guard shackInstead, at that first sign with the blasted-away arrow continue right and uphill, eventually coming to another fork where you’ll take a left (sign and arrow here are intact). Shortly after you’ll end up at the official trailhead for trail #236. From this point it is one mile to the peak on a single-track that moves along the spine of the ridge through a clearcut densely  covered with larch saplings. After a third of a mile the clearcut ends and the single-track enters a mature larch, pine, and spruce forest carpeted thickly with beargrass. The last quarter-mile gets a bit steeper as you emerge onto the bare granite slabs that make up Cooks Peak. A dilapidated log cabin that served the crew manning the lookout tower is slightly southwest of the peak. At the very top of Cooks Peak you’ll find the concrete footings and some cabling of the old lookout tower and a geocache. In theory, the views here are phenomenal, but on this day the haze from wildfires in Canada put the kibosh on that.  

Enjoy this hike? Let us know in the comments below!

You can drive up this road for a third of a mile to the upper trailhead
You can drive up this road for a third of a mile to the upper trailhead
The first portion of the trail leads through a clearcut densely populated with larch saplings
The first portion of the trail leads through a clearcut densely populated with larch saplings
A singletrack rides the spine of the ridge to Cooks Peak
A singletrack rides the spine of the ridge to Cooks Peak
Wasps nest. Rather here than in my backyard…
Wasp’s nest. Rather here than in my backyard…
Cooks Peak is a slab of bare granite
Cooks Peak is a slab of bare granite
Decaying guard shack
Decaying guard shack
Inside of the guard shack
Inside of the guard shack
The privy already collapsed
The privy already collapsed
There are a number of wildfires that limited views on this day. Otherwise views would be spectacular
There are a number of wildfires that limited views on this day. Otherwise views would be spectacular
View out towards the Kootenai River Valley obstructed by a smoky haze
View out towards the Kootenai River Valley obstructed by a smoky haze
Mountain view
Mountain view
 Trailmap

© 2016 – 2017 NaughtyHiker. All rights reserved. No duplication without permission.

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8 Comments Add yours

  1. julianne0919 says:

    Huge wasp’s nest!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. montucky says:

    This smoke sure does spoil the views! I will be glad when this fire season comes to a end!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. naughtyhiker says:

      We had a bit of a storm on Sunday and it did clear up a bit around Coeur d’Alene. Keeping fingers crossed…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. montucky says:

    It is clearer here too, but the smoke is starting to slowly drift back in.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Bill Love says:

    I’m recovering from foot surgery and used this hike to test drive the titanium plate and screws holding my foot together. The combination of distance and terrain offered an ideal rehab assignment. The old lookout and outstanding views were well worth the effort.

    I’ve driven through Cooks Pass on numerous occasions but never took the time to enjoy this pleasant hike. I’m glad I saved it until now.

    Thanks for your detailed hike descriptions and great photos.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. naughtyhiker says:

      Glad to hear you’re recovering. I’m curious what the snow conditions were like on Cooks Peak. We hiked Stevens Peak over the Memorial Day weekend and hit on 2-3 feet of packed snow and a good 7 inches of ice covered the lakes

      Like

  5. Bill Love says:

    Just a few very small patches of snow that are likely melted by now on the Cooks Peak trail. Looking south, Roman Nose and Snow Peak still have significant snow in the upper basins. To the north, Burton and Myrtle Peaks appear mostly bare but that’s looking at their south slopes. There were a couple of rigs parked at the Bottleneck/Snow Lake trailhead but no way of knowing if the trails to the lakes are open. The cricks are still quite high with runoff. My guess is that North slopes above 6000′ in the Selkirks still have quite a bit of snow. I doubt that the road to Roman Nose Lakes is open. Regardless, there is a lot more high country accessible now for early June.

    Happy trails,
    Bill Love

    Liked by 1 person

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