Scotchman Peaks trails: Open and ready for hiking and hunting season

Trails in the Scotchman Peaks are open and ready for hiking and hunting seasons. This is due in part to Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness trail crews. FSPW volunteers show their love for the wild Scotchmans by working across the border.

“I love it. It’s good work. All it takes is a little discipline.” — Phil Degens, 80 years young.

Volunteers traveled from as far away as Havre, Montana, to have a go at working with cross cut saws, Pulaskis, pick-mattocks and other traditional tools. As Forest Service partners, FSPW worked a day each on Star Peak Trail #999, Blacktail Creek Trail #997, Ross Creek Trail #142 and Little Spar Trail #143 in Montana. In Idaho, they spend two days on East Fork Peak Trail #563 and five days on Goat Mountain Trail #135.

Greg Dugdale, center, drove all the way from Havre, Montana to work on Scotchman Peaks trails.

Two days of trail work remain this year. FSPW volunteer Brian McVey will lead a crew on Morris Creek Trail #132 on September 21. The crew will be on Goat Mountain Trail #35 on September 28, National Public Lands Day. This will be followed by a picnic at Rising Sun Ranch on Lightning Creek Road.

Young beginners and old hands work together on FSPW trail adventures. This spring, students from Forrest M. Bird Charter School with teacher Misty Rains worked on Trial #35. The students had enough fun learning to use tools like the Pulaski and loppers to deem it “cool.” A group of teenagers and twenty-somethings from the Spokane-based Lands Council led by Chris Bachman rerouted a Ross Creek crossing on Trail #142 at its confluence with the South Fork.

New tread on Goat Mountain trail will make life easier for hikers.

At the other end of the age spectrum, veteran FSPW crew member, Phil Degens, turned 80 this year. For his birthday, FSPW gave him a top-notch orange hard hat decorated with his name and “Senior Crew Member” designation. He wears it with pride. He can also still swing a Pulaski for hours at a stretch, and personifies the FSPW trail volunteer. “I love it,” Degens said. “It’s good work. All it takes is a little discipline.”

A young silky saw operator from the Lands Council working on the Ross Creek crossing reroute.

Learn about trail adventures in the Scotchman Peaks at

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Categories: Blog, Right Now
About The Author:

Sandy Compton has been program coordinator for Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness since 2009. He is also a storyteller and author of both fiction and non-fiction books, and the publisher at

In addition to his other duties, he runs the FSPW All Star Trail Team (, which works on Forest Service trails in the Scotchman Peaks. He is a trail surveyor as well, and a C-Certified Crosscut Bucker/Feller and USFS National Saw Policy OHLEC instructor.

Sandy grew up on a small farm/woodlot at the south end of the proposed wilderness and lives there still. He is also board member of the National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance and a planning team member for the Northern Rockies Wilderness Skills Institute.

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