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Mt Bonaparte - A Tale of Two Trails

                                                                        Mt Bonaparte – A Tale of Two Trails

Long a popular trek with Boy Scouts staying at Camp Bonaparte below, Mt. Bonaparte is a wooded, alpine island in a sea of rolling farmland. It’s also one of the few fire lookouts still manned in high fire season, giving a historical aspect to this high perch. On the downside, ATV tracks and the scars of heavy logging have left their mark on the landscape and yet the rocky, windblown summit with its skyline of view of everything between Glacier Peak to the south and the Kootenay Mountains (BC, Canada) to the north makes Bonaparte worth the visit. With a wide network of trails, there are many options to explore. We’ll get you going with a description of two trails: the Lookout Trail and the Cabin Trail. Our topo map shows other options you can explore on your own.

Maps. See our topo map. Note: Use ‘Print Preview’ to orient/scale the map before printing.

Activity: Hiking, trail running, horseback riding, mountain biking.

Nearest Town: Tonasket.

Skill: 2 (intermediate).
Fitness: 2 (intermediate).

Distance: 5 miles (Lookout Tr), 13 miles (Cabin Tr)

Elevation Gain: 2000 feet (Lookout Tr), 2200 feet (Cabin Tr)

Best Seasons: June - October

Access:

Lookout Trailhead. The shortest approach (and the one we recommend) if the goal is to reach the summit is to climb the Lookout Trail to the top. To reach the trailhead, drive Highway 97 to Tonasket. Turn right on Jonathon St E, signed for “Sitzmark Ski Area – Havillah”. This soon becomes Havillah Road. Reach the village of Havilla in 15.7 miles, and just before the church in town turn right on the  West Lost Lake Road. One mile later, turn right at a T-intersection. Pass a large logging operation, and at four miles from the church in Havilla turn right onto FR 300 signed for Mt. Bonaparte Trail. Pass a sign for the trail at a stream crossing, but continue 1.2 miles farther until reaching a pullout on a switchback . This is the better-used trailhead. Park here.

Cabin Trailhead. : For a longer walk, a good mountain bike ride, or to ride horses on the trail system try this trailhead. Drive Highway 97 to Tonasket. Turn right on Jonathon St E, signed for “Sitzmark Ski Area – Havillah”. This soon becomes Havillah Road. After 15 miles, turn right onto FR 3230 marked for Highlands Sno-Park -- if you reach the town of Havilla, you’ve gone too far. Drive 4.7 miles up FR 3230 and, at a saddle in the road, reach the wide, well-maintained trailhead. This trailhead is set up to accommodate horseback riders.

Trip Instructions:

Lookout Trail: For those on foot who wish to waste no time getting to the top, begin hiking steeply up a trail widened by ATV use. Reach a junction with the Southside Trail after 1 mile and continue straight, remaining on the most-used path. About 2 miles from the trailhead, merge with the Antoine Trail. Proceed 0.5 miles farther and arrive on Mt. Bonaparte’s 7257-foot summit. Admire the historic 1914 lookout cabin, and the much newer one rising above it, which may be manned in the summer months. This trail is generally too steep for a mountain bike ride.   

Cabin Trail: Follow the relatively flat trail and in 0.25 reach a junction with the Fourth of July Trail. Turn left. The trail undulates as it travels through a forest marred by selective logging. Merge with the Antoine Trail 2.75 miles from the trailhead, and with the Lookout trail 3.25 miles after that. Ascend to the summit in .5 miles, 6.5 miles from the trailhead. The first part of this trail makes an excellent intermediate mountain bike ride, provided the trail has been cleared of blowdowns (there were at least a dozen blowdowns in July of 2013). The last mile of the trail may be too steep for many mountain bikers to ride up but is ridable on the descent.

Other Area Trails: Mt Bonaparte is circumnavigated by a large trail network maintained by the Okanogan Backcountry Horseman’s Association. Most of these are suitable for hiking, running, horses, and mountain bikes. We recommended two that are most commonly traveled and maintained, but that’s not to say there isn’t more to explore. View our topo map to find access, trailheads, and trail routes.

Allowed: Hikers, horses, and mountain bikes are all allowed. The area does get a certain degree of motorcycle/ATV usage, but the legality of this is unclear.

Land Ownership: Okanogan National Forest

Fees/Permits: None needed as of July 2013

Leave It Better than You Found It. This should be every user’s goal. Pick up trash left by others, pull noxious weeds along your route, throw branches over unwanted spur trails, etc.

Disclaimer. Treat this information as recommendations, not gospel. Conditions change and those contributing these reports are volunteers--they may make mistakes or not know all the issues affecting a route. You are responsible for yourself, your actions, and your safety. If you won’t accept that responsibility, you are prohibited from using our information.