Skip to main content

U.S. Forest Service

Pacific Northwest Region Viewing Area


Silky lupine and red paintbrush amid snags from the 1988 White Mountain Fire. Silky lupine (Lupinus sericeus) and red paintbrush (Castilleja miniata) amid snags from the 1988 White Mountain Fire. Photo courtesy of Scott Price.

Red paintbrush growing amid limbs and logs. Red paintbrush (Castilleja miniata) is at its prime in mid-July on the Kettle River Mountain Range in northeastern Washington. Photo courtesy of Kathy Ahlenslager.

Sherman Peak Loop

Forest: Colville National Forest

District: Republic and Three Rivers Ranger Districts

Description: Sherman Peak (6,998 feet) lies along the crest of the north-south trending Kettle River Mountain Range on the Colville National Forest in northeastern Washington. Wildfires are one way nature regenerates higher elevation forests such as this one. Much of this area is recovering very well, with dense young lodgepole pine now standing well above the winter snows, providing food and cover for snowshoe hare and other wildlife. The five-mile roundtrip Sherman Loop Trail climbs from Sherman Pass (5575 feet) and follows around the mountainside between 5800 and 6500 feet in elevation through areas recovering from the 1988 White Mountain Fire, which burned 20,000 acres. The trail leads through a mixed conifer forest of subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa), Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta), and western larch (Larix occidentalis).

Viewing Information: The flora of the Kettle River Mountain includes 439 plant species. Take the trail in July for prime wildflower viewing with brilliant displays of silky lupine (Lupinus sericeus) and red paintbrush Castilleja miniata). These contrast with the silver-grays of snags, still standing from the 1988 fire. Common shrubs include Utah honeysuckle (Lonicera utahensis), Oregon boxleaf (Paxistima myrsinites), black elderberry (Sambucus racemosa), and dwarf huickleberry (Vaccinium myrtillus). Wildflowers not to miss are heart-leaved arnica (Arnica cordifolia), queen's cup (Clintonia uniflora), larkspur (Delphinium nuttallianum), fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium), subalpine daisy (Erigeron peregrinus), rattlesnake plantain (Goodyera oblongifolia), tall mertensia (Mertensia paniculatus), western sweet-cicely (Osmorhiza occidentalis), parrot's beak (Pedicularis contorta), and twisted stalk (Streptopus amplexifolius).

Safety First: Be prepared in spring, summer, and autumn for rapid changes in weather as thunderstorms can develop rapidly. Rattlesnakes, bears, cougars, and moose might be seen, so be alert to your surroundings. Since summer temperatures often reach 90o to 100oF, bring plenty of water and sunscreen. Insect repellant may also come in handy. Let someone know where you are heading and when you expect to return.

Directions: Parking is available at Sherman Pass on State Highway 20, which is 12 miles east of Republic and 40 miles west of Colville. The Sherman Loop Trail begins on the south side of the highway about 100 feet east of the pass.

Ownership and Management: U.S. Forest Service, Colville National Forest, Republic, and Three Rivers Ranger Districts.

Closest Town: Republic, Washington.