The Cottonwood Loop is an easy route with great scenic viewpoints
Getting there: Access to the Cottonwood Loop is easiest from Chewelah, WA, located on Hwy 395. Head east on Main St out of town, on Flowery Trail Road, toward the ski resort of 49 Degrees North. At the top of mountain, before getting to the ski hill, a large sno-park is located just past the Cottonwood Divide Road. You reach this staging area in approx. 10 miles from Chewelah.
Staging/Camping: The staging area is the sno-park on Flowery Trail Road at the top of the hill climbing out of Chewelah. There are several RV/camping facilities in Chewelah, as well as dry camping in the Colville National Forest, if so desired.[read more=”Read more” less=”Read less”]
Difficulty: The gravel roads on the road are all USFS maintained, with some paved road travel on Flowery Trail while returning to the sno-park. The roads are easy to ride, but the difficulty is staying on track, finding the proper USFS roads to stay on route. USFS road signs are brown carbonite slats, with black road numbers printed on them. They usually located on the right side of the road you intend to travel on, about 25 feet from the intersection. They can be obstructed by brush or tree branches, so look carefully for them.
Highlights: This is an easy route with some great scenic viewpoints along the route. The Cottonwood Divide Road has several viewpoints along the route. The rest of the mountain route is a tree-lined by way through the Colville National Forest. An OHV playground is located on Middle Fork Calispell Road, about halfway through the route. Logging activity may have this area closed, temporarily.
Time and Distance: The loop is 35 miles around, so allow 3-4 hours to complete.
Route Description: From the sno-park, head back west on Flowery Trail Road, turning left onto Cottonwood Divide Road (USFS RD 4342). Follow this road for about 10 miles, until you come upon an intersection with USFS 3540, a “Y” intersection with a hard left uphill turn. Follow 3540 until it intersects with Middle Fork Calispell Road. Turn left. The OHV playground is 1.25 miles down this road on the right. Continue down Middle Fork until it intersects with Bartlette Road. Turn left on Bartlette Road, following it until it intersects with Flowery Trail Road. Turn left on Flowery Trail Road, riding this paved road back to the sno-park. You will pass the 49 Degrees North ski area on the left on the way back to the sno-park. No OHV’s are allowed in the ski resort.
Other routes in the area: A current Colville National Forest Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM)Southeast area is required to be in your possession on this route. Other routes are highlighted by dashed-segmented lines. This is a seasonal route area. Most of the route is open April through November. However, snow does linger in the higher areas well into spring, thus making the road impassable untl the snow melts.[/read]