Approaching the summit of North Baldy
Dominating the ridgeline to the west of Priest Lake is North
Baldy, a prominent outcropping of granite with a commanding view
encompassing 360 degrees. Not surprisingly, this outstanding
viewpoint was chosen as a USFS fire lookout site early on and as a
US Air Force radar site during World War II.
The mountain's lookout history began in 1909 with a camp 1/4
mile south of the summit to which a log cabin was added in 1918. A
cupola cabin was built in 1928, then a 40' pole tower in 1938.
Lastly, a 41' treated timber tower was constructed in 1964 and
abandoned in the 1970's. The tower was dismantled in 1989 and the
top 30' of the superstructure moved to Big Meadow Lake west of Ione
WA to become a wildlife observation tower.
Lookout photos and information courtesy of Rex
Kamstra's Forest Fire Lookout
Today the only structure on the mountain is a small relay tower,
but the views are as outstanding as ever. Priest Lake and the
Selkirk Crest draw the eye to the east while the Pend Oreille
Valley is laid out at your feet to the west. Just about every
significant peak in North Idaho and Northeastern Washington is
visible from this vantage.
The road up to the summit can be challenging to negotiate,
especially the final half-mile or so which is strewn with
fist-sized rocks and boulders. A high-clearance vehicle is
recommended, and I was wishing for an ATV when making my way up on
my motorcycle. I have added a half-star to the terrain rating under
the assumption that many will want to walk the final stretch.
The cache is a .50-cal. ammo can with an "Official Geocache"
sticker. It is hidden near what I ascertained to be the highest
point on the mountain in a group of rocks roughly 70' north of the
old lookout tower site. Spoiler photos have been added to aid in
locating the container among the many rocks peppering the peak.
Please be sure to rehide the cache well and then add another rock
or two to be sure; the location is a frequent destination for
visitors traveling from both sides of the ridge.
Priest Lake and the Selkirk Crest viewed from North