This hike is about as far north as you can go in Idaho and actually starts in the NE corner of Washington State. The recommended way to do this loop is clockwise from the trailhead. You’ll start on Trail 506 at elevation 5907’ and drop in 3 ½ miles to a crossing of the pretty Salmo River at 4,100’. Turn east (right) and head up about 2 miles to an unsigned trail junction ion the right to drop down to another river crossing and a short uphill pitch to a nice camp at the messy remains of the historic Salmo Cabin.
Back on the main trail, head up the valley about 3 ½ miles to the last reliable water and an OK camp. Or, better yet, load up on water and go another mile up to the ridge top and a nice camp at 6,300’ right on the trail. This is a good spot to take a side trip to the summit of Snowy Top Mountain (7,572’) to the north. There is no trail up there and good navigation skills are required. If you are not sure if this is for you, there is another summit further south that you can go up. See below.
From the ridge camp, continue south on what is now the Shedroof Divide Trail #512, which heads many miles all the way down to the Pass Creek Pass road you drove in on. But we’ll turn off of 512 before we get that far south.
After about 1 mile, find a side trail to the right (west) up Little Snowy Top. It’s about 1 mile to the top and offers great views and a much easier ascent than Snow Top that was mentioned above. The historic lookout up here burned down a while back but the trip to the top is well worth the effort.
After returning from Little Snowy Top, continue on south 512. You’ll soon pass a trail on the left that used to head all the way down to the Priest River 3,400’ below but a landslide on the very steep hills totally wiped out that trail. About 3 miles further on, you’ll go through a pass, head down the other side and come to the only reliable water along this stretch. There are several camps here and make a good place to stop for the day and explore the country nearby.
Another 2 miles on the very scenic Shedroof Divide Trail #512 will bring you to a low pass and Trail #535 on the right. Take that trail for about 5 miles back to your vehicle at the trailhead.