Marble Creek Trail


Forest Service Trail #261

Why? A decent forest walk with views of Lookout Mountain.

Season: June through November

Ease: Moderate to difficult, depending on how far you hike. It’s 8 miles and 1,000 feet up to the junction with the Delaney Creek Trail.

The Marble Creek Trail follows Marble Creek, but at least for the first 6 miles it doesn't spend much time in the riparian zone or with the creek in sight. Instead it's a walk in a forest that varies from spruce and fir to larch and hemlock, from high underbrush to none. There are few views except glimpses across the creek of the tag ends of the ridges coming north off Grandmother Mountain.

It's a more energetic hike than a quick glance at the map might indicate. While that first 6 miles to Duplex Creek show a total elevation gain of about 1,000 feet it may be as much as 3,000 feet round trip due to lots of ups and downs.

It's a good trail most of the way with lots of needles underneath to make walking comfortable. There are places where the high underbrush or dense grass obscures the trail, but they don't hide it completely. And there are a few spots where ORV erosion is evident. You also should be prepared for a wet crossing of Homestead Creek 3 miles in.

While not my favorite hike, I enjoyed the day and especially my lunch above the creek with glimpses of Lookout Mountain through the trees, a spot high on my list of good hiking destinations.

Directions: Drive north on Highway 3 from Bovil until just past milepost 54. Turn right into Clarkia and again as the road turns right, then left after the school. Drive 1 mile, then stay straight on Road 321. The Marble Creek Trailhead is on the right a total of 16 miles in, right after the road crosses Marble Creek.

Information: 2St. Joe Ranger District, Idaho Panhandle National Forest at St. Maries, (208) 245 2531.

Maps: USGS Grandmother Mountain, Idaho.

Connections: A very long day hike could start with the trail to Lookout Mountain, turning west onto the Delaney Creek Trail which connects with the this trail. A right turn would take you out on the hike described above. A left would take you up the ridge that tops out with Grandmother Mountain.