Gold Fork North Trail

The ford of the Gold Fork North Trail at the northern end of the trail, is deep and swift for all users. The other two fords shouldn't be much of a problem for hikers and horses, however the last one could cause some problems for motorcycles.

Also, the upper portion of the trail is very steep, and may be difficult for motorcycles.

The trail travels through open forests of larch, lodgepole pine, and fir, which provide for views along the trail. The trail ends at the old Gold Fork Lookout. From the cement platform of the lookout there are panoramic views to the west, north, and south.

The Spruce Fire burned through the upper part of this trail in 1989. The buildings associated with the lookout may have been destroyed. Starting at the western trailhead for Dollar Creek Ridge, hike up Dollar Creek Ridge for approximately 0.2 miles.

The unsigned but very evident Gold Fork North Trail drops steeply to, and fords, the North Fork of the Gold Fork River at this point.

The trail gently climbs and fords a side drainage in another 0.3 miles. The trail continues this gentle climb along a ridge through a mixed larch and lodgepole pine forest, and crosses another creek at 1.3 miles. After this last ford, the trail alternately climbs steeply and gently as it works its way up another ridge. This ridge is a mixture of open areas with lodgepole pine and fir forests. There may be evidence of wildfires within the forested areas.

At 2.4 miles, the trail levels out as the ridge flattens for 0.6 miles. At 3 miles, the trail begins to climb very steeply for about 0.4 miles. The last 0.5 miles are gentle and the trail approaches the old Gold Fork Lookout from the northeast. The first thing you see of the lookout area is the green roof of the old garage.

As you come around a granite outcrop, you see the garage, an old tool shed, pit toilet, and the lookout. Only the cement platform remains of the lookout. Climb the steps and in the northwest corner of the platform is a USGS survey marker. Views from the platform include Needles to the north; Long Valley, Cascade Reservoir, and West Mountain to the west; and the Big Creek drainage to the south. Far in the northwest may be the Seven Devils.

At a Glance

Operational Hours: May 15 - September 30
Usage: Light
Closest Towns: Cascade, Idaho

General Information


ACCESS #1- Drive north of Cascade on State Highway 55, 12.1 miles north of the junction with the Warm Lake Highway.  Turn right, make a dogleg, and continue east for 2.8 miles to a bridge.  Cross the bridge and turn right onto the Gold Fork Road, passing the Forest boundary in another 5 miles.  Continue heading east on Forest Service (FS) Road 498 and pass FS Road 400 in 1.9 miles. 

In another 2.7 miles, turn right onto FS Road 402.  Follow FS Road 402 for 7.3 miles to the trailhead for Trail #114.  Hike up Trail #114 for approximately 0.2 miles to the unsigned trailhead for the Gold Fork North Trail #162.


ACCESS #2- Drive north of Cascade on State Highway 55, approximately 0.5 miles, to its junction with the Warm Lake Highway. 

Turn right onto the Warm Lake Highway and travel about 12 miles to Forest Service (FS) Road 497.  Turn left onto FS Road 497 and drive about 7 miles to its end at the Gold Fork Lookout. 

The unsigned trailhead is to the northeast of a granite outcrop, east of the lookout.

General Notes:

The North Gold Fork Trailhead is a signed site with a hitching rack. It serves the Foolhen Way (#001), Dollar Creek Way (#114), Gold Fork North (#162) and North Gold Fork (#225) trails. 

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Day Hiking

Day hiking.

Difficulty Level: Intermediate

Horse Riding

Horse riding and camping in the area.

Difficulty Level: Intermediate

OHV Trail Riding

Check for OHV riding opportunities with your Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) of the Cascade Ranger District.

Difficulty Level: Intermediate

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


  Area/Length : 
3.9 Miles

  Latitude : 

  Longitude : 

  Elevation : 
6240 - 7790