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St. Maries, the county seat and largest city is located on the St. Joe River, offering some of the finest outdoor recreation opportunities available anywhere. The St. Joe River Valley has a well-deserved reputation as being one of the finest elk hunting areas in the United States. The St. Joe National Forest, which supports the third largest elk herd in North America, is popular with big game hunters. For that reason, hunters from throughout the nation travel to St. Maries every year to take advantage of this area's large and growing elk herd.
A number of small lakes, streams and rivers surround St. Maries, provide a variety of fish. Dawn to dusk are prime times to fish from spring to fall. Take a scenic drive above St. Joe City where the river becomes shallower, faster and the water is clear. Here you can catch Dolly Vardins, rainbow, cutthroat and other species of trout. The upper St. Joe River above or below Avery is where the best fly-fishing is found. The St. Joe is a beautiful freestone river that originates at St. Joe Lake high on the western slope of the Bitterroot Range. More than 50 miles of the upper river glide through lush northwestern forest and are managed as catch-and- release water. Only flies and artificial lures with single barbless hooks are allowed.
Ski areas and snowmobiling opportunities are plentiful in the county. In winter months snowmobiling enthusiasts delight in miles of groomed trails and good snow. There are over 600 acres available just outside St. Maries for snowmobiling. If land adventures are more your style, consider the outstanding hiking or horseback riding trails or bike paths. With numerous new trails opening in and around St. Maries, the opportunities for bicycling, hiking, and horseback trips are endless. The National Forest offers several hundred miles of hiking trails, fishing, huckleberry picking, boating on the St. Joe, golfing, mountain biking, and much more.