The Yaak & Lake Koocanusa + ADD NEW ROUTE
9 in Montana Montana115 Miles
on June 1, 2009
- Trip Toolbox
From Hwy 2 (east of Bonners Ferry, ID or West of Troy, MT) is FS rd 508, Yaak River Rd., it is well marked and you can only head North on this road. Head north on the main road to Yaak, MT. Once in Yaak, continue straight ahead and follow the signs that keep you on FS rd 92 - stay on the pavement and you'll be fine. (There are a few short cut roads that are gravel but it's easy to take a wrong turn and go many miles in the wrong direction). You will begin to climb over the pass and then descend to Lake Koocanusa. At the bottom of the hill you will have your choice to go left across the bridge and right onto Hwy 37 or stay to your right on Libby Dam/Yaak rd. FS 92/FS 228 (can one road have so many names) head generally south and you'll find Libby, MT.
This is one of the most scenic wild roads in the northwest. From Hwy 2 you'll head up the Yaak River Rd. passing the Yaak Falls on your right. This is heavily forested terrain with an abundance of wildlife. Marshy meadow areas are home to moose and a Black or Grizzly bear may be seen when the huckleberries are ripe. Several herds of elk can be found in the basin along with a multitude of deer. As you climb up over the pass on FS rd 92 you will have excellent views of Montana, British Columbia, and North Idaho. Once you're over the pass you'll have some excellent views of Lake Koocanusa and further south, Libby Dam. So much to see, but you'll need to keep your eyes pealed for those furry creatures.
Note: this route can be connected with several other great roads depending on your starting point. We start from Coeur D'Alene, ID heading up Hwy 95 to Hwy 2 to reach Yaak rd. On the way back we take Hwy 2 west from Libby to Bull Lake Rd heading south, then west on Hwy 200 into Sandpoint and South on 95 to get back to Coeur D' Alene. This is approximately a 430 mile loop, a great ride on a long summer day. .
The pavement is in excellent condition from Hwy 2 to the town of Yaak, with great sweepers and just a few tight turns. FS 92 from Yaak is a narrow winding mountain road with a few steep hills. The higher elevation areas have significant frost heaves, pot holes, rocks and always a possible downed tree. This is truly wild country (even by local standards) with no services or cell service, so use caution and good commonsense while riding these roads. On an August Saturday afternoon, we saw 2 cars and 1 group of bikers on FS 92 - a busy day. Once you are over to Lake Koocanusa the west side road is in good shape with a little gravel here and there in the corners; it has a posted 55mph speed limit and the local sheriff does make his daily rounds on this side of the lake. On the East side of the lake is Hwy 37 - 2 lanes, a 70mph speed limit - with many semi trucks and motor homes. We prefer the "twistier" west side (Libby Dam/Yaak rd.). Both roads will take you to the same location and back.
There are several camp grounds along this route and you can primitive camp anywhere on Forest Service land though fire restrictions do apply at certain times of the year. Be sure you are on FS land and not private property. There is a renowned bar "the Dirty Shame Saloon" in Yaak; along with, the Yaak Mercantile that sells regular gas, basic groceries, ice cream and cold drinks. Be sure to stop at the Libby Dam view points. The small town of Libby has full services, with motels, gas, and places to eat.
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