Gibraltar Trail– New trail offers wildflowers and solid views

Quick Facts:

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Enjoy a great view of the old mining town of Republic from the Gibraltar Trail.

Location: Colville National Forest, Ferry County, Wa

Land Agency: National Forest Service

Roundtrip: 3.2 miles

Elevation gain: 550 feet

Contact: Colville National Forest, Republic Ranger District

Notes: Trail is currently under construction. Check with ranger district on progress, changes and/or closures. Once completed, trail will be a loop over 12 miles long with a connection to the Ferry County Fairgrounds.

 Access: From Republic, head east on SR 20 for 7.3 miles turning right onto Hall Creek Road FR 99  (from Kettle Falls, head west on SR 20 for 36 miles turning left onto FR 99). Continue for 0.3 mile turning right onto FR 2053. Follow this good dirt road 5.0 miles to trailhead.

Good to Know: dog-friendly, exceptional wildflowers, exceptional views, kid-friendly, open to mountain bikes

Locally known as Old Gib, 3,782-foot Gibraltar Mountain rises 1,200 feet above the quaint mining town of Republic. Long admired from the valley, this beloved local landmark is now sprouting a network of scenic trails. The first few miles are currently in place, where you can amble along a rolling ridge bursting with wildflowers; and sweeping views from Republic nestled below among golden hills to the nearby lofty Kettle Crest kissing passing by puffy white clouds.

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Bitterroot is one of the many wildflowers growing along this trail.

Not since the 1930s when the CCC was in full swing has there been any major trail building in the hills above Republic. But all that changed in 2010 when a wide consortium of recreation and conservation groups in cooperation with the US Forest Service broke ground on a new trail network. Hard working volunteers from Conservation Northwest, the Ferry County Trails Association, the Kettle Range Conservation Group, the Spokane Mountaineers and the Washington Trails Association; along with trail crews from the Forest Service and the Curlew Job Corp (for disadvantaged youth) have constructed the first few miles of trail in what will eventually become a 12 mile loop with a connecting 6 mile spur to the Ferry County Fairgrounds.

Close to town and open to hikers, equestrians and mountain bikers; the Gibraltar Trail is sure to become a popular destination for both locals and visitors alike. As it is currently a work-in-progress, check with the Republic Ranger Station on its current status before setting off. A short but highly scenic section of the trail however has been constructed to a 4,200-foot knoll.

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A hiker examines the open ridge for flowers.

To reach it, walk from the trailhead to FR 2053, turn left and after a very short distance, turn right onto a secondary dirt road. Now follow this road .7 mile to an old gravel quarry. The trail is located just to the east. Now, get ready for some wonderful hiking. Heading north, the way immediately leaves the forest for flowered slopes. Wind up balds and ridges bursting with blossoms, and enjoy emerging views along with the floral show. Locate Brown Mountain’s open pyramidal summit to the south. Just in front of it notice the open slopes of the Camel Back. The trail is slated to eventually wrap around that enticing ridge!

Continue on newly constructed tread gently climbing, wrapping around a 4,200-foot knoll. Views are excellent—especially southwest down the Sanpoil River Valley and southeast over the Thirteen Mile Canyon region. The Kettle Crest can be prominently seen from here too—but that view gets better, so keep hiking along the ridge. Notice the flowers—shooting stars, balsamroot, fireweed, cinquefoil, lupine, phlox, and death camas, to name a few.

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Beyond the knoll, the trail continues-eventually to form a scenic 12 mile loop.

At 1.6 miles reach a small saddle. Continue left just a short distance to a 4,200-foot open knoll for a sweeping view encompassing Mount Bonaparte and the Okanogan Highlands and the Kettle Crest from Mount Leona to White Mountain. It is one of the best views of the crest from not along it. Look to the northwest at Republic set snuggly below between hills that once yielded gold and that turn gold each fall thanks to larches. The peak just to your north is Old Gib, where a spur trail will eventually lead continuing on to the fairgrounds. Anticipate more great hiking in the near future.

For more information (including maps) on this hike and others in Ferry County and Eastern Washington, consult Day Hiking Eastern Washington. 

Day Hiking Eastn Washington

For more information on great things to do in the area, Check out Scenic Washington’s insider guide to the Sherman Pass Scenic Byway.

For a great place to stay in Republic, I highly recommend the Northern Inn. 

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