To find the beautiful and rugged Chilco Mountain Trail, you'll need to follow some Forest Service roads, including some gravel and dirt ones that may have some washboarding and potholes. You don't necessarily need four-wheel-drive, but be sure your vehicle is capable of getting you and your canine copilot across mixed road surfaces. There's a small parking area next to the trailhead at the junction of East Bunco Road (NF 209) and NF 385.
At times, you might find it's a barking area, too—this is a popular spot for canine hikers, though this backcountry trail is never too crowded. Chilco Mountain Trail (also designated on signage as Trail #14 by the Forest Service) ascends from near the lot to the summit of South Chilco Mountain, where you'll enjoy an amazing 360-degree view, including of Hayden Lake glistening in the distance. (Follow the trail signs to North Chilco Peak for a shorter hike.)
Along the way, enjoy the sights and smells of the rich pine forests that surround you. The evergreens change as the elevation does, shifting from hemlock and larch to lodgepole pine and subalpine fir. You'll also pass through aspen groves. Squirrels and birds chitter at you from the forest canopy. The tall trees offer shade for much of the hike, but not all, so be sure you're ready for some sun exposure as you ascend. Wildflowers carpet the slopes in the summer, as well as berries and rich green beargrass.
As you get close to the top, trees give way to scattered stones leading up to the bald peak. Little fluffy clouds sail overhead. You may want to bring a light jacket to break the wind that batters the top of the mountain. It will be cool up here, and often snow-covered through early summer, so be sure you're ready to handle some ice and snow if you hike here before July. Whatever the weather, this hike offers a perfect balance of challenge, accessibility, and distance, and is a place you and your pup will want to return.