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Swan/Ferry Lakes and West Fork San Poil River Trail

The route begins a few miles south of Republic along SR 21, leading up the narrow Scatter Creek canyon to a forested plateau dotted by several lakes. Swan, Ferry, and Long Lakes each have variable wetland margins surrounded by mid-elevation mixed conifer forest, including western larch, Douglas-fir, Englemann spruce and subalpine fir. Further south, the West Fork/Gold Creek Road (gravel) follows a corridor along the West Fork San Poil River with well-developed riparian forest.

Access and Logistics

From Republic: Follow SR 21 south about 6.7 miles. Turn west onto the Scatter Creek Road (aka Forest Service Road 53), paved. At 5.5 miles a spur road to the left leads a short distance to Long Lake. If time is limited, continue past to a spur road on the right at 5.75 miles leading to Ferry Lake, or to another spur leading to Swan Lake at 7.0 miles.

Returning to SR 21, continue south from Scatter Creek Rd another 7.6 miles to the West Gold Creek Road (gravel). Turn right (west). The road follows the West Fork San Poil River for 2.5 miles to an intersection with the West Fork San Poil Road (gravel and maintained less frequently).

All services are available in Republic. Forest Service campgrounds with vault toilets are located at Swan and Ferry Lakes.

Major Habitats along Route
  • Lake/marsh – Swan, Ferry, and Long lakes provide open water and marsh habitat.
  • Mid-elevation mixed conifer forest – Douglas-fir, western larch, Englemann spruce, subalpine fir, and lodgepole pine occupy varied sites along Scatter Creek Road and around the lakes. Some of the forest is older with greater numbers of snags and large down wood.
  • Riparian/wetland – Scatter Creek begins as a narrow canyon, widening into shrubby wetland about 3 miles from the highway. Relatively narrow wetland margins surround the lakes, especially Ferry and Swan Lake.
  • Riverine - Cottonwood stands line the West Fork San Poil River and the river channel can be viewed in places along the West Gold Creek Road.

Birds and Seasons to Visit

Seasons: Best spring, summer, and fall.

Birds: Common loons are found on the lakes, and bird species of mixed conifer forest inhabit the surrounding timber. Northern waterthrush and other warblers, thrushes, and other passerines are likely along the San Poil River. Common redpolls and pine grosbeak are a possibility along SR 21 during winter.

Side Trips

West Fork San Poil Road: The West Fork San Poil Road leads northwest from the Gold Creek Road, continuing along the West Fork San Poil River and surrounding forests of Ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir. This little-traveled county road continues through a deep forested valley, becoming the Aeneas Valley Road. Persistent travelers will eventually reach SR 20, 27 miles west of Republic and 13 miles east of Tonasket. Through the Aeneas Valley, wetlands, Ponderosa pine forest, hay fields, and large rock bluffs offer varied habitats.


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