LOLO PASS – The eastern end of the Lochsa River Corridor offers a handful of easy diversions for people traveling along U.S. Highway 12.
The route is well known for its trout fishing, whitewater rafting and its many trailheads that provide access to wilderness areas and other backcountry destinations. Those looking for less-involved activities can visit the Lochsa Historic Ranger Station, Colgate Licks or the Bernard Devoto Memorial Cedar Grove. Each offers a unique way to experience the natural beauty and rich history of the area.
• Lochsa Historic Ranger Station, 48 miles east of Kooskia. In the early 1900s, this ranger station was among the most remote outposts in the U.S. Forest Service. It was accessible by horse or foot only, and staffed by rangers, firefighters and trail builders. After it was retired, the ranger station was restored and now serves as a museum.
Because of recent budget cuts, it is staffed and managed by a cadre of volunteers. It is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
• Colgate Licks, 74 miles east of Kooskia. This site is known on a number of fronts. It’s a natural warm springs that is favored by a variety of big game animals, especially during the winter. The tepid water that flows in the creek there is rich with minerals like calcium, sodium and potassium. The area also displays the scars of the massive wildfires that visited the area in the first half of the 20th century.
Several snarled old snags, the ashen skeletons of trees that died during the burns, still reach skyward. The area is named for George Colgate, the cook of an 1893 hunting party. Colgate became ill and was left behind by his party and perished at the site. For those interested in the story, it was documented by the late Tribune editor and editorial writer Ladd Hamilton in his book “Snowbound.” A short loop trail with interpretive signs is available for people who want to explore the unique area.
• Devoto Memorial Cedar Grove, about 88 miles east of Kooskia. This grove of ancient and giant western red cedars is named for Bernard Devoto, a Lewis and Clark historian. A short trail winds through the towering trees.
Eric Barker may be contacted at email@example.com or at (208) 848-2273. Follow him on Twitter @ezebarker.