A spectacular view of Upper Priest Lake, Hughes Meadow and the surrounding area awaits at a 45-foot lookout tower atop Hughes Ridge. The tower is manned for approximately three months during the summer fire season and visitors are welcome. The panoramic views are fantastic and provide a picture perfect setting for a picnic lunch - and don't forget the camera.
Hughes Meadow is a large meadow located on the west side of Hughes Ridge. Depending on climatic conditions and beaver activity on the stream that flows through the meadow, it may be extremely marshy throughout the year from spring-fall. Numerous birds and wildlife frequent the meadow. Of particular interest is the cedar grove along the entrance road adjacent to Hughes Meadows. Here, old growth cedars stand majestically, as sentinels to a meadow access corridor. With the exception of snowmobiles recreational vehicles are prohibited on Hughes Meadow. Also, the access road into Hughes Meadow is closed to all vehicles each year from March 15-June 30.
The route to both Hughes Meadow Lookout and Hughes Meadow is via USFS Road 302 (an extension of State Highway 57) from Nordman. Travel a total of 18 3/4 miles north on USFS Road 302 and 1013 over Granite Pass to USFS Road 662. Signs point toward Hughes Ridge. Turn left onto Road 662 and proceed for approximately 1-1/2 miles until it intersects with USFS Road 1343. Stay left on Road 662 to go to Hughes Meadow (1 1/2 mile).
To proceed to the Hughes Ridge Lookout, bear right at the intersection onto Road 1343 and travel up several switchbacks for 5 miles. At that point, you will be at a 'Y' intersection. Look very carefully to your left for the unmarked trailhead. The trailhead may be somewhat obscured depending upon the time of year and undergrowth conditions.
A half mile hike to the top of the ridge will take you to the lookout tower. The initial portion of the trail is steep, but the climb is well worth the fantastic views from the lookout. As with all mountain roads in the Priest Lake area, conditions on Road 1343 can vary greatly. It is wise to check with the USFS Priest Lake Ranger District office (MP 32, Hwy 57) prior to traveling on this road.
Hughes Ridge Lookout and Hughes Meadow are great excursions to take in conjunction with a visit to the Roosevelt Grove of Ancient Cedars / Granite Falls.
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