Kevin and Carol Bennett
Kevin and Carol Bennett

Beaches Resources and Info | North Idaho

Go Huckleberry Picking

“Purple gold” can be found in the mountains of Idaho during the late summer. That is the time huckleberries ripen. This small round fruit, which grows on shrubs two to six feet tall, is a delicious treat not only for humans but for bears as well.
Fourth-grade students from Southside Elementary in Bonner County proposed the idea for a state fruit. The huckleberry, Vaccinium membranaceum,  was adopted as Idaho’s state fruit on February 14, 2000. Several huckleberry species are native to Idaho, all belonging to genus Vaccinium section Myrtillus.
The most common and popular is the black or thin-leaved huckleberry. Plants grow slowly, taking up to 15 years to reach full maturity. Black huckleberries produce single plump, dark purple berries in the axils of leaves on new shoots. They depend on an insulating cover of snow for survival during winter and have not been successfully grown commercially. Black huckleberries grow at elevations between 2,000 and 11,000 feet with many productive colonies between 4,000 and 6,000 feet. Black huckleberries usually grow from 1 to 6 feet tall and produce berries up to 1/2 inch in diameter. Huckleberries are a favorite food of bears so be careful while picking berries.

There is no fee required for recreational picking of berries,  or collecting other plant material like beargrass, but some areas may have special restrictions in place.  There may be limits on the amount that you collect.  It is always best to check with the local Ranger District or Supervisor's Office before gathering or collecting items from the Forest.

Commercial gathering of huckleberries and commercial harvesting of mushrooms is NOT permitted on the Idaho Panhandle National Forests.

Hot Spots for Huckleberry Picking:

Priest Lake

The Priest Lake area is known for its abundance of huckleberries with hundreds of trails to choose from. Many factors such as elevations, ripening seasons and climate contribute to a good berry site. The best berry picking is usually found along abandoned logging roads, and in old burns. The berry bushes found in these areas have a lot of sunlight and little competition for nutrients.
Click here for a map of the Priest Lake Huckleberry Corridors (provided by the USDA Forest Service) or stop by the Priest Lake Ranger District and get out and enjoy!

Schweitzer Mountain

an easy stroll to a great workout.  You can find yourself in old growth forests, wildflower filled mountainside meadows, or alongside bubbling streams.  Any way you go be ready to enjoy fantastic views and nature at it's finest.  

Stop at the Summer Activity Center before you head out and pick up a trail map and ask the staff about the best trails to find the huckleberries, and important safety information.

Huckleberry Shuttle: Starting Saturday, July 22, 2017 and lasting until the berries fade, join the Schweitzer Huckleberry Shuttle! Just show up with your own bucket and they’ll take you to a hot picking spot with very little hiking required. Total trip time lasts about 1½-2 hours.
The group will meet at the village bus stop at 9am on Saturdays but you must reserve your spot by Friday, the day before, at 4pm! Just call the Schweitzer Activity Center at 208-255-3081 to reserve your spot!
Cost is $5 per family and kids 12 & under must be accompanied by an adult. Happy picking!

Coeur d'Alene:

For a day trip, head up into the Coeur d’Alene National Forest via either Fernan Road or Blue Creek Road near Wolf Lodge. From these roads you can access some of the Forest Service roads that will take you up to where the berries grow fierce. The Coeur d’Alene mountains are especially known for their great quantity of berries. Just pick a hiking trail and follow it until you spot a berry bush! If you don’t see any, keep going up.

Bonners Ferry:
The Kaniksu National Forest is a great place for Huckleberry picking. It can be enjoyed as a solitary experience or as a group activity for the entire family. Click here for a map of the Bonners Ferry Huckleberry Corridors (provided by the USDA Forest Service) or stop by the Bonners Ferry Ranger District and get out and enjoy!
USDA Forest Service

Bonners Ferry Ranger District
6286 Main Street
Bonners Ferry, ID  83805
(208) 267-5561
www.fs.fed.us/ipnf/bonnersferry

St. Joe District
The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests administers approximately 4,348,225 acres of Wilderness, which includes 5 wilderness areas. Most of the forest views are natural although there is also evidence of past logging activity and some developed areas closer to communities whick makes this an ideal area for huckleberries.There are many places where Huckleberries, when in season, are abundant. Occasionally, large game animals may be seen in their preferred habitat. Check out St. Gold Center - Marble Cr. Trail #251, this trail is part of the Marble Creek trail system. 

Be warned, North Idahoans are pretty tight-lipped about their favorite huckleberry picking spots, and Huckleberry aficionados return to their spot year after year. Some people can be downright territorial, as if they were the only people around to have discovered it and now it’s theirs. The truth huckleberries are usually quite abundant with plenty to go around.

There are also several Huckleberry Festivals in the region. Check the specific area chambers for specific dates and more information.

Priest Lake Huckleberry Festival
Usually held mid-July

PriestLake.org

Schweitzer Mountain Huckleberry Festival
schweitzer.com

Wallace Huckleberry/Heritage Festival
Usually held the 3rd weekend in August
wallaceidahochamber.com

 

 

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