Kootenai National Forest, located in the mountainous terrain of extreme northwestern Montana, is lushly overgrown with trees. Fifteen species of conifers alone can be found here, including ponderosa, lodgepole, and juniper, as well as Douglas-fir, Engelmann spruce, larch, and grand fir. The forest is nursed by a moist Pacific maritime climate found in few other places in the generally arid state. Tenacious whitebark pines cling to the high, rocky folds of the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness while hushed cathedrals of giant hemlocks and western red cedars rise above the forest floor.
A hiker's paradise, the forest's pathways coax an unhurried stroll through its idyllic setting. For a sampling of stately ponderosa, drive the Tony Peak Road southeast of Libby or along Lower Bristow Creek on the western edge of Lake Koocanusa.