Lolo Trail & Lolo Pass

Lolo Trail is about 100 miles long, roughly from Weippe to beyond Lolo Pass (which is on the Idaho-Montana border). From Lolo, Montana, to a few miles west of Lolo Pass, the trail closely follows U.S. Highway 12. It then follows the high mountain ridges north of the highway for more than 80 miles, eventually descending to the Weippe Prairie near Weippe, Idaho. The corridor of this trail and pass contain significant ethnographic, archeological, and historic resources associated with Nez Perce use during buffalo hunts as well as during the Nez Perce War of 1877. In addition, Lewis and Clark followed this pathway during their expedition. Recreational opportunities, natural quiet, and high air quality are important resources along this trail. Wildlife is also abundant.

The Lolo Trail is a national historic landmark. It encompasses the Nez Perce (Nee-Me-Po) National Historic Trail and the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. Known as the Buffalo Trail in ancient times, this trail was used by the Nez Perce and the U.S. Cavalry in the 1877 war.

The Clearwater National Forest manages the historic trails. A Forest Service visitor center (under construction until 2001) on the Idaho/Montana border at Lolo Pass serves as the central information station for the area.

The Lewis and Clark party crossed this pass September 15, 1805, westbound for the Pacific after a long detour to the south.

From the headwaters of the Missouri they had crossed the mountains to the Salmon River. Finding the river impassable, they traded for packhorses, hired a Native American guide and came north to an Indian trail across the mountains here. Tired and ill-fed, the men had a hard struggle in early snow along the steep ridges which the trail followed for most of its course west to the Clearwater River.