Pulaski Tunnel Trail
Exploring the Pulaski Tunnel Trail makes for a memorable experience. Widely considered to be one of the best hikes in the state—not so much for the scenery but for the history. Lined with interpretive signs, this creekside path culminates at the famous Pulaski Tunnel, where Ranger Ed Pulaski herded 45 firefighters during the 1910 wildfire in Northern Idaho—saving all but 6.
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Route Description for Pulaski Tunnel Trail
A magnet for history buffs and outdoor enthusiasts alike, the Pulaski Tunnel Trail is a state-famous hike. Rich in history and beautiful vegetation, this route sees plenty of traffic, so expect company. Those seeking a more tranquil experience are encouraged to head out in the early morning or late evening to avoid the afternoon rush! While the first 1/4 mile is paved and accessible, the remainder of the route demands some stamina and careful footing on the single-track, rocky terrain. Pack plenty of water and allocate about 2-2.5hrs to complete this route. Note: the path gets extremely muddy and slippery after a rainfall—demanding careful footing and concentration.
While best explored in the warmer seasons, the Pulaski Tunnel Hike boasts a more sequestered and equally scenic experience in the winter months—just make sure to strap on a pair of snowshoes! Lined with interpretive signs that detail the area’s dramatic history. Learn all about the 1910 wildfire that ravaged more than 3 million acres of Idaho, Montana, and Washington. Additionally, you will enjoy the opportunity to explore the cave where Big Ed Pulaski saved the lives of dozens of firefighters by corralling them at gunpoint into the Nicholson Mine. This hike is a staple when visiting North Idaho.
Embark on your adventure along the Pulaski Tunnel Trail from the trailhead off National Forest Development Road 456. Setting out from the parking lot, you will cross over the road into the woodland.
After crossing the footbridge over Placer Creek, the path will redirect you westwardly along the northern banks of West Fork Placer Creek. Enjoy the relaxing sounds of the gurgling waters and the sights of the verdant tree canopy shading the path. After some hiking, the paved route will come to an end, and the path will transform into a more primitive, single-track trail through the woodlands.
Take the time to read the interpretive signs as you meander, and you will be transported into the shoes of the intrepid firemen that ventured this escape route into the cavern. In the spring, you will be granted views of blossoming wildflowers and mushrooms that adorn the forest floor, boasting a whimsical ambiance. Notice mine remnants along the trail as you wander further into the wilderness. After some hiking, you will ultimately reach the Pulaski Tunnel, which was restored in 2010. Marvel at the scene of the fern framed Mine and explore the historical site. When you are through appreciating the importance of this tunnel, head back along the path the way you came to the trailhead.
The Pulaski Tunnel is an abandoned silver mine (Nicholson Mine) with a rich history. Located near Wallace, Idaho, the Pulaski Tunnel is the place where Ranger Big Ed Pulaski saved all but six of his 45-man firefighting crew in August of 1910. Threatening the men at gunpoint, Pulaski herded all the men into the abandoned tunnel, saving them from the raging wildfire that destroyed 3 million acres of forestland that year. Both the trail and tunnel are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and remain popular tourist destinations.
Insider Hints for Pulaski Tunnel Trail
- The parking lot fills up fast, so arrive early to secure a spot
- Head out in the morning for a more tranquil experience
- For the first 1/4 mile the path is paved and accessible
- Explore in the spring when the vegetation is lush and wildflowers blossom
- Take the time to read the interpretive signs along the path that detail the area’s history
Getting to the Pulaski Tunnel Trail Trailhead
The Pulaski Tunnel Hike is accessed from the trailhead off National Forest Development Road 456.
Pulaski Tunnel Trail Elevation Graph
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Pulaski Tunnel Trail Reviews
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