Hiking to Chilco peak in the fall is an extraordinary experience. The larch trees begin to change color, their leaves fall to the ground covering the trail with a golden layer of the tiny needles. Larch trees are pine trees that lose their needles after they turn yellow in the fall. The walk on the trail, flat, level and lightly dusted with the golden needles is a beautiful sight in the cold fall air.
Chilco Mountain is located in the Coeur d’Alene National Forest just east of Coeur d’Alene Idaho. The trailhead is accessible by about 10 miles of backcountry gravel roads, the access is fairly easy to find in good weather but inaccessible after deep snow falls. (insert forest service road number this point). Although this hike is challenging it does not require any special equipment other than quality hiking shoes and some cold weather gear. Be prepared for the cold wind maybe some rain and for a challenging hike up hill and the quick easy decent afterwards, so dress in layered clothing.
The hike is a challenging two miles uphill the entire way. Once you reach the top, the trail breaks out into an open rocky windswept slope. A chill breeze usually sweeps across the exposed broken rock making the final traverse of the slope cold but exciting. The views are tremendous, looking across the valley of Coeur d’Alene and the Post Falls area. Stop for a break in a small island shelter of trees and have a snack maybe some coffee before moving on. It’s an exciting moment to feel like your sitting on top of the world.
Although you may be reluctant to leave the beautiful views and scenery you’ll be happy to get out of the cold wind and head back down into the trees. the hike down as much faster of course as it is all downhill. 45 minutes steady walking will bring you back to the trailhead. But you don’t have to rush there is plenty of Wildlife to see so take it slow keep your eyes open.